Wayde van Niekerk and Leandri Geel stood out on a spectacular day of athletics, as the three-day ASA Senior Track & Field Championships closed with a bang in Potchefstroom on Saturday.
Van Niekerk, turning out for Boland Athletics (BOLA), charged to victory in the men's 400m final in 44.17 seconds, with the world record holder clocking his fastest time in more than five years over the one-lap distance.
Rising star Lythe Pillay of Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA) secured the silver medal in a personal best 44.80 and Gardeo Isaacs earned bronze in 45.15 for Western Province Athletics (WPA).
"This is a massive jump for me and hopefully I'll continue going from strength to strength," Van Niekerk said. "My body feels strong and I'm handling the rounds well. There's a holistic package I'm working on and hopefully it will all come together at the World Championships later this year."
Geel was also in top form, breaking the South African record in the women's hammer throw.
The CGA athlete landed the hammer at 65.18 metres, shattering the national mark of 64.31m which was set by Marga Cumming in February 2021.
Cumming, representing host province Athletics Central North West (ACNW) settled for the silver medal with a 60.60m heave and Tamlynn Leonard of Athletics Free State (AFS) took bronze with a best attempt of 58.98m.
"My coach said I must really try and break the record because we felt it was time for me to get my name on the board," Geel said. "So it's such a relief to get it because I've been working so hard and it all fell into place today."
Two athletes - middle-distance runner Prudence Sekgodiso (AGN) and sprinter Miranda Coetzee of Athletics North West North (ANWN) - secured double gold in their events.
Made to compete in both finals on the same day after some of the programme had been postponed on Day 2 due to a thunderstorm, Sekgodiso managed to retain both titles she won last year.
First she won the 1 500m final in 4:17.22, and then she returned to the track to take the 800m title in 2:03.92. Coetzee was also superb, winning the women's 400m final in a quick time of 51.04 and then taking the 200m gold medal in 22.74. She set personal bests in both events.
In other men's finals on the track, junior athlete Armand van der Walt (AGN) won the men's 200m sprint in 20.50, Edmund du Plessis (AGN) took the 800m race in 1:47.19, Maxime Chaumeton (CGA) won the 5 000m race in 13:46.40, Antonio Alkana (WPA) won his eighth national 110m hurdles title in 13.32, Sokwakhana Zanini (AGN) won gold in the men's 400m hurdles in 48.95, Tshepo Tshite (AGN) coasted to victory in the men's 1 500m event in 3:38.63 and Ashley Smith of Western Province Athletics (WPA) successfully defended his title in the men's 3 000m steeplechase in 8:52.23.
Among the women, Marione Fourie (AGN) clocked 12.98 to win the women's 100m hurdles contest, Zeney van der Walt (AGN) won gold in the women's 400m hurdles in 54.82, Kyla Jacobs (WPA) took the women's 5 000m title in 15:59.12 and Phemelo Matshaba (AGN) won the women's 3 000m steeplechase in 11:02.53.
In field events, Burger Lambrechts (ACNW) won the men's shot put with a best throw of 20.30m, Tshepang Makhethe (AFS) took the men' hammer throw title with a 69.42m heave, Keegan Fourie (BOLA) won the men's high jump with a 2.25m leap, Cheswill Johnson (CGA) won the men's long jump with a 7.95m leap, Zinzi Xulu won the women's triple jump contest with a best leap of 13.21m and Yolandi Stander won the discus throw with a 57.48m heave.
Earlier in the day, Sizwe Ndebele (AGN) won the men's 20km walk in 1:31:42 and Jessica Groenewald (ACNW) secured victory in the women's race in 1:53:22.
Closing out the ASA Senior Championships, ACNW won the women's 4x100m relay in 45.40, and AGN quartets won the men's 4x100m contest (39.88), as well as the women's 4x400m event in 3:33.68 and the men's 4x400m in 3:06.90.
“What a great championship this was. We saw new records, new champions and several double champions. Despite the late afternoon weather washout on Day 2, the efforts remained resilient on Day 3 with stunning performances.
“We thank all participants for making this a super success. It’s especially gratifying to see a lot of young performers coming through and strongly. We congratulate all winners, their coaches and support staff.”
* All ASA records are subject to standard ratification processes