The University of Johannesburg and University of Free State have it all to run for when the final leg of this year’s Varsity Athletics competition takes place in Stellenbosch on Monday, April 20. UJ, who are currently in fourth position after last month’s opening meet in Potchefstroom, have a strong mathematical chance of overtaking third-placed University of the Free State. Tuks and Pukke lead the pack, by a virtually unassailable margin, in first and second place respectively.
UJ athletics manager Roger Haitengi says his athletes would be looking to narrow the gap on the log leaders and take the laurels in a number of key events. Haitengi says: ‘We were unlucky in the first instalment with a number of second-place finishes that cost us valuable points.’ Commonwealth Games bronze medallist long jumper Ruswahl Samaai, who is currently number one in the senior outdoor world rankings, will be one of the athletes to watch.
Samaai recently secured the Central Gauteng title with a jump of 8.12m after equalling his personal best of 8.13m earlier this season. Meanwhile, Senekal finished second a year ago when she pushed defending champion Anneri Ebersohn but fell short in the final stretch, however, she will be looking to erase that from her memory as she goes in search of that elusive win. She says: ‘Being in front of your home crowd gives you that extra motivation, for example during last year’s relay – running in front of the team – hearing them cheer in that last 100m makes you dig deep. It is always fun (running at home) in front of your friends and family. I know I will have a tough time in the race but I know that if I am able to chase Anneri, I will run a good time – which is my main aim. I need to make sure I run under 57.50 seconds as that is the qualifying time for the World Student Games.’
After coming in second in the Long Jump in Potchefstroom a few weeks ago, NWU-Pukke’s Bianca Erwee will now shift her focus to the Triple Jump. The multi-talented athlete will also be absent from the High Jump, which is the event she won last year at the very same ground she will be competing next week. Erwee says: ‘I am only doing the Triple Jump with Julia Du Plessis doing the High Jump. I haven’t been preparing for Triple Jump this time because it is not one of my events. I haven’t been jumping since 2008 so I would just be lucky or happy to get it at 11.5m. I have no idea who is competing for the other universities. My strongest events are Long Jumps and High Jump and then Triple Jump I think, but I have not been doing it for very long.’
Photo credit: Richard Huggard/FullStop Communications