Caster Semenya led the charge on Friday night, as In-Site athletes showed superb form in the build-up to the IAAF World Championships in London next month with fine performances at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco.
African long jump champion Ruswahl Samaai and teenage sprint sensation Retshidisitswe Mlenga ensured it was a winning weekend for In-Site’s athletes, racking up convincing victories at major international competitions.
Samaai proved he was in superb form ahead of next month’s IAAF World Championships in London by winning his specialist discipline at the Diamond League meeting in Rabat on Sunday.
Launching a leap of 8.35m, he earned another confidence-boosting victory by landing two centimetres further than American athlete Jarrion Lawson, who took second place.
“I am really jumping well at the moment and I’m hoping to keep in good shape and stay healthy,” Samaai said afterwards.
Mlenga, meanwhile, bagged three medals at the IAAF World U-18 Championships in Nairobi.
After taking second place in the boys’ 100m final earlier in the week, clocking 10.61 seconds, he went on to grab gold in the 200m in 21.03.
The 17-year-old prodigy closed out his campaign by joining compatriots Gontse Morake, Sokwakhana Zazini and Zeney van der Walt as they grabbed bronze in the mixed 4x400m relay final, completing the race in 3:24.45.
“I feel really blessed and I’m so happy because I came back to win gold (in the half-lap race),” Mlenga said.
“I want to thank everyone who supported me.”
He made a significant contribution, helping the SA team finish top of the table with 11 medals (five gold, three silver and three bronze).
“Well done to both these athletes for shining again on the international circuit,” said Peet van Zyl of In-Site Athlete Management.
“Ruswahl has proved he is on track to target a medal at the World Championships, and Retshidisitswe has stuck up his hand as one of South Africa’s brightest young stars.”
Wayde van Niekerk was the star performer at the Diamond League meeting in Lausanne on Thursday night, leading a trio of In-Site athletes as they put up a fight against the world’s best sprinters.
Pacing himself well in his first international 400m race of the season, the world record holder covered the one-lap distance in 43.62 seconds to secure another historic victory, taking 0.04 off the meeting record held by American great Michael Johnson which had been set 21 years earlier.
He also clocked the fastest ever 400m time at a Diamond League event, climbing to the top of the 2017 world rankings.
“The public was great. That really helps in an event like the 400m,” Van Niekerk said.
“It is my first race in Europe this year and my first 400m. I didn’t come with a specific time in mind but I am pleased with this result.”
Meanwhile, fellow sprinters Akani Simbine and Henricho Bruintjies pushed their opponents to the line in the men’s 100m race.
Simbine finished third in 9.99, just 0.03 behind Justin Gatlin of the United States who took the win.
Bruintjies again proved he was in the best shape of his career, finishing sixth in 10.15.
“It’s important to be consistent in the build-up to the IAAF World Championships in London next month, and all three of these men are showing tremendous consistency,” said Peet van Zyl of In-Site Athlete Management.
“Well done to these athletes on delivering great performances once again. They have had superb seasons thus far, and I’m sure there is still plenty to come from all of them.”
Sprinter Akani Simbine and long jumper Ruswahl Samaai were the star performers on Tuesday evening, leading a large contingent of In-Site athletes at the annual Istvan Gyulai Memorial track and field meeting in Szekesfehervar, Hungary.
Simbine finished second in both the men’s 100m and 200m events.
Over the shorter distance he completed the race in 9.99, just behind American Justin Gatlin who held off a late charge by the South African to win in 9.98, while former national record holder Henricho Bruintjies earned fourth position in 10.11.
In the half-lap sprint, Simbine completed the race in 20.21, with Isiah Young of the United States securing victory in 20.14.
Samaai, meanwhile, won the men’s long jump with a leap of 8.34m, setting a new meeting record.
He was well clear of American athlete Jeff Henderson, the Olympic champion, who produced a best effort of 8.18m in second place.
Hurdler Antonio Alkana finished fifth in the 110m race over the barriers in 13.31, while Lydia Jele of Botswana also grabbed fifth spot in the women’s 400m event in 52.20.
Alyssa Conley finished sixth in the women’s 200m sprint in 11.41, Lynique Prinsloo was sixth in the women’s long jump (6.34m) and Jacob Rozani ended eighth in the men’s 800m contest in 1:47.27.
“Well done to all the athletes. It was an impressive all-round performance and again proves they are on track for the IAAF World Championships in London next month,” said Peet van Zyl of In-Site Athlete Management.
Olympic 400m champion and world record holder Wayde van Niekerk hopes to add the 200m to his IAAF World Championships schedule in London later this year, but it is not set in stone, according to his manager Peet van Zyl of In-Site Athlete Management.
Van Zyl reiterated on Friday that Van Niekerk’s main focus for the season was to successfully defend the 400m title he won at the global showpiece in Beijing two years ago.
“It will all depend on how his season progresses, racing both the 200m and 400m distances on the international circuit, including a few Diamond League meetings,” Van Zyl said.
“A decision about whether he will attempt the 200m/400m double at the world championships will hinge on his performances in those races.”
Van Niekerk made history at the Rio Olympic Games last year when he broke American Michael Johnson’s long-standing global one-lap record, crossing the line in 43.03 seconds.
The 24-year-old athlete was the first South African to dip below 20 seconds in the 200m sprint when he set the former national record of 19.94 seconds at a meeting in Lucerne in 2015.
He also won the African 200m title in Durban last year.
In order to be considered for selection in the half-lap event at the World Championships, he would have to post a qualifying time of 20.31 or faster.
Van Zyl confirmed they had sent a request to global athletics body the IAAF for a scheduling change, as the 200m heats were set to be held two hours before the 400m final on the current programme.
However, the IAAF informed In-Site Athlete Management the correct procedure needed to be followed which required the national federation, Athletics SA (ASA) to make the request on behalf of the athlete.
Van Zyl denied a report which suggested Van Niekerk was hoping to set up a meeting with eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt at the World Championships.
Bolt has publicly stated he would not be racing in the 200m but would instead focus on the 100m in the final event of his career.
Wayde van Niekerk has been named on a shortlist of global superstars for the prestigious Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category.
The South African sprinting sensation can add yet another international accolade for his heroics at the Rio Olympic Games where he smashed the 400m world record to clinch the title.
Van Niekerk made history at the 2016 showpiece when he dismantled American Michael Johnson’s long-standing one-lap record crossing the line in 43.03 seconds.
It could be Van Niekerk’s second major international accolade after he was named Best Male Athlete of the 2016 Rio Game by the Association of International Olympic Committees (Anoc).
“I am humbled just to be mentioned in the company of great sportsmen and women that have been nominated for the Laureus Sports Awards,” Van Niekerk said.
“Just to be nominated for Laureus Sports Awards is a dream come true for any athlete which will inspire and motivate me for years to come.”
Van Niekerk has been shortlisted in the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year category along with Ethiopian distance runner Almaz Ayana, the Fiji men’s Rugby Sevens team, Iceland’s men’s football team, Leicester City FC, and Formula One driver Nico Rosberg.
The Laureus World Sports Awards is held annually, celebrating the most remarkable men and women from the world of sport along with their achievements from the previous calendar year.
A Nominations Panel of the world’s leading sports editors, writers and broadcasters vote to treat a shortlist of six nominations in five categories — Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, Laureus World Sportswomen of the Year, Laureus World Team of the Year, Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year and Laureus World Comeback of the Year.
“Named alongside some of the most accomplished athletes in world sport is a testament to Wayde’s incredible rise on the global stage,” said Peet van Zyl of In-Site athlete management.
“We are extremely proud of his achievements over the last few years and we wish him and all the other nominees the best of luck for the prestigious Laureus Sports Awards.”
Two of South Africa’s fastest men, Akani Simbine and Wayde van Niekerk, are even faster when they’re behind the wheel of a car.
Both athletes participated as celebrity drivers in the second season of the Speed Stars TV series.
Both speedsters made it to the final, and they had some fun along the way, all in the aid of charity.
* Pics courtesy of www.gregbeadle.com
Having established his place as the nation’s top track and field athlete, Wayde van Niekerk was recognised for his achievements this season at the SA Sport Awards in Bloemfontein on Sunday night, retaining his place as the country’s most prolific and popular sportsman in all codes.
Van Niekerk, who received the prestigious Sports Star of the Year accolade for the second year in a row, also added the People’s Choice, Sportsman of the Year, International Achievement and Shield of Jove gongs, as he was rewarded for a spectacular season which included his world record-breaking performance at the Rio Olympics.
In addition, his coach Ans Botha was acknowledged for her efforts by being recognised as Coach of the Year.
“This is a tremendous honour, and to be acknowledged by my compatriots in this way once again makes me truly proud to be South African,” Van Niekerk said.
“To know that I have so much support from my fellow South Africans gives me the confidence and courage to keep working hard to make the nation proud.”
The 24-year-old sprinter started his 2016 campaign with a stunning victory over 100m at the Free State Provincial Championships in Bloemfontein, clocking 9.98 seconds to secure a unique record as the only man to have run under 10 seconds (100m), 20 seconds (200m) and 44 seconds (400m) in his career.
He went on to flaunt his versatility by winning the 200m title at the African Championships in Durban and forming part of the SA men’s 4x100m relay team who won gold.
In Rio in August, he produced what was later voted by International Olympic Committee members as the performance of the Games, winning 400m gold from lane eight and clocking 43.03 to shatter the 17-year-old world record held by American Michael Johnson.
“Everything this season was geared towards the Olympics, so to achieve my goals in Rio and break a record held by someone who is held in such high esteem was an incredible feeling,” Van Niekerk said.
“I’d like to thank everyone for their support – my coach Ans Botha, my family and my fans – for standing behind me and motivating me throughout the year.”
Another experienced track star and In-Site client, sprinter Ilse Hayes, was named Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability at the awards ceremony after earning two silver medals at the Rio Paralympics.
Wayde Van Niekerk has teamed up with Cartoon Network and ChildLine to launch an international anti-bullying campaign, CN Buddy Network, in South Africa.
The initiative, kicked off on May 7, encourages children and young people to ‘be a buddy, not a bully’, and aims to raise awareness and to empower the children of South Africa to take action against bullying.
Wayde will appear in an on-air campaign on Cartoon Network on DStv, Channel 301 which will also include an original series of animated shorts addressing the viewpoints of the bully, the bullied and the observer.
“Bullying is never acceptable and there is nothing shameful about asking for help – speaking up is the first step in making things better.” – Wayde-
Radio interview for KayaFM:
Bloemfontein 12th March 2016
The world 400m champion has become the first athlete to clock sub-10 sec for 100m, sub-20 sec for 200m and sub-44 for 400m.
Van Niekerk’s 9.98 was assisted by 1.5m/s tailwind and came after he had run 10.12 in the heats.
A dream that has become true as he posted on Instagram ” Wow!!! Truly grateful and humbled by the opportunity and talents the Lord has blessed me with. Finally reaching my childhood dream of sub 10″.
His times calculated together make him the 5th best sprinter of all times.