Nel races to season’s best at Grand Prix-meeting

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The South African 400m-hurdles champion, Wenda Nel (Tuks), proved on Thursday during the Athletix Grand Prix-meeting at Tuks that she was a quick learner as she raced to a winning time of 55.31 seconds.

Her time was more than a second faster than her winning time two weeks ago at the Gauteng North Championships.

“The mistake I made during the provincial championships was being too conservative in my approach. After I have finished, I was not tired at all. It was as if I had run in slow-mo. I easily could have run another race. That made me realise that I can’t afford to waste time. I’ve got to be more confident in my abilities and get the burners going earlier on during the race,” said Nel.

Her winning time at the Gauteng North Championships was 56.63.

The Tuks-athlete is confident that she will be able to run an even faster time next week during the South African Championships.

As expected the former world champion, Nicholas Bett (Kenya), won the men’s 400m-hurdles race. It is the second time this season he managed to dip under 49 seconds. His winning time was 48.88.

Le Roux Hamman (Tuks) was second in a personal best time of 49.22 with LJ van Zyl (Tuks) third in 49.45. Cornel Fredericks (Tuks) who raced for the first time this season was fourth in a respectable time of 49.63 while the world youth champion, Sokwakhana Zazini (TuksSport High School), was fifth setting a new personal best time of 49.82.

Hamman is starting to establish himself as one of the top dogs in South African 400m-hurdling proving that his victory at last year’s national championships was no fluke. Two weeks ago he also won the Gauteng North Championships. His time of 49.22 is also the fastest so far for a South African athlete.

Hamman said he aims to focus solely on his running in future.

“I want to start to make a living from running. The only way to do is to run fast times. The quicker, the better. That is the only way you can get sponsors interested. I know an improvement of 0.02s is not much, but for now, I will take it. I am confident that sub-49s race is going to happen. It is just a question of when.

“Tonight I again felt I was getting stronger towards the end of the race. I think a certain way for me to improve my time is to start my final surge towards the finish line earlier. My technique going over the hurdles also needs some work.”

As to defending his South African title next week, Hamman said: “Winning or losing is not that important. What matters is that I keep on improving my times.”