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Viwe, Erasmus, Richardson defy weather to deliver double gold, national records in Potchefstroom

Viwe Jingqi, Ashley Erasmus and Benjamin Richardson ended a ground-breaking week with another spectacular performance on the third and final day of the ASA National U16, U18 and U20 Track And Field Championships in Potchefstroom.

Viwe Jingqi running to her women’s U18 200m national record at the ASA U16 (Sub-Youth), U18 (Youth) and U20 (Junior) T&F National Championships at NWU Mc Arthur Athletics Stadium, Potchefstroom / Photo credit: Cecilia van Bers
Viwe Jingqi running to her women’s U18 200m national record at the ASA U16 (Sub-Youth), U18 (Youth) and U20 (Junior) T&F National Championships at NWU Mc Arthur Athletics Stadium, Potchefstroom / Photo credit: Cecilia van Bers

Sprint sensation Viwe Jingqi ended a ground-breaking week with another spectacular performance, and Ashley Erasmus shone in the field, with both athletes delivering record-breaking results on the third and final day of the ASA National U16, U18 and U20 Track And Field Championships at NWU McArthur Athletics Stadium in Potchefstroom on Saturday.

Viwe Jingqi, who shattered the SA U18 (youth) record three times on Thursday with her best being 11.22 seconds, scorched home in 23.03 in the U20 (junior) 200m final on Saturday to break one of the longest standing records in the sport.

The 17 year-old athlete ripped 0.27 off the national youth mark of 23.30 which had been set by Evette de Klerk in Tshwane in April 1982.

Behind, Jingqi’s Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) teammate, Precious Molepo did well to grab the 200m silver medal in 23.97.

“I did not pay too much attention to the weather and did what I came here to do. The only thing I had on my mind was to push through the line but I did not expect to break another record,” said Jingqi after the race.

“I dedicate this win to my coach Paul Gorries and my parents. Breaking four records, three in the 100m and one in the 200m, has not sunk in yet. I want to go home and reflect on my impressive achievement,” she added.

“The weather played a role and prevented me from breaking the SA record. It made the track heavy and I was cold warming up. I had four weeks to prepare after I contracted Covid-19. I wanted to run a faster time and I plan to defend my title at the senior national championships in Cape Town. The plan was to come here and get it done. The goal is to peak at the World Junior Championships in Cali, Colombia. I finished fourth at the World Championships in Kenya last year and I have a score to settle in Cali.”Lythe Pillay: Men U20 400m champion (46.58)

Ashley Erasmus, meanwhile, was on fire, winning double gold in the U18 girls shot put and discus throw final.

The 16 year-old athlete from Mpumalanga landed the shot at 18.15m, nearly three metres clear of her nearest opponent, as she obliterated the SA youth record of 17.52m which was set by Lezaan Jordaan in Germiston in April 2012.

Erasmus also took the top step on the podium in the U18 girls discus, producing a personal best of 51.77m.

Sending the discus sailing six metres further than anyone else in the field, her winning effort was just 33 centimetres short of Simone du Toit‘s national youth best (52.10m) which has stood for 17 years.

After winning the U18 Girls 400m final earlier in the day, Molepo, who finished fifth in the 400m final at last year’s U20 World Athletics Championships in Nairobi at the age of 16, cemented her status as one of the country’s most promising athletes, coasting to the national youth one-lap title in 53.70.

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In the U20 men’s 200m final, Benjamin Richardson (AGN) also wrapped up an impressive sprint double, winning gold in the half-lap final in 20.75, adding to the 100m title he won earlier in the week.

“I won the 100m yesterday and I won the 200m today. It was raining and made it hard to execute the properly but then I also came to qualify for the world juniors in both events which is what I did and I’m going to Columbia. Going home with two golds which is what I also did last year, so I’m happy I defended my titles.”Benjamin Richardson: Men U20 200m champion (20:75

Neo Mosebi of KwaZulu-Natal put up another fight, but he settled for the silver medal again in 20.95, with Lucky Molenyane grabbing bronze for Athletics Free State (AFS) in 21.02.

Among the other highlights on the final day of competition, Lythe Pillay successfully defended his South African U20 400m title, winning the junior men’s one-lap final in 46.58.

National senior 1500m champion Danielle Verster added the U20 women’s 800m crown to the junior 1500m title she won the day before, taking the two-lap race in 2:09.27.

“I am happy with the win and to do it in front of my home crowd. I won the 1500m and 800m gold medals at home at a track that I am used to running. I want to thank my father and coach Jean Verster. It was cold, and it affected my time.”Danielle Verster: Women U20 800m champion (2:09:27)

Final Medal Table

Athletics Gauteng North finished top of the table at the three-day national championships, raking in a total of 116 medals (46 golds, 43 silver and 27 bronze) across all three age groups.

Central Gauteng Athletics finished second with 53 medals (17 gold, 15 silver and 21 bronze), and Athletics Free State ended third among the 17 competing provinces with a total of 37 medals (13 gold, 8 silver and 16 bronze).

“This has been an absolutely successful championship. It was amazing! Not even the rain on the last day could dampen the determination of the athletes who were really out to make it all special.

“It’s a pity that the wet weather affected most from breaking records but we take pride that national records were achieved each day.

“We came to this championship with high expectations on performance and that is what was achieved. We are proud of all our 17 provinces, athletes, coaches, the host province, the Municipality of Potchefstroom and all others who made this event a success,” said James Moloi, the President of ASA.

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