Cronje claims SA's only medal
Johan Cronje (Gallo Images)
Moscow - A perfectly timed surge at the finish helped Johan Cronje claim bronze and the first ever medal for South Africa in the men's 1500 metre event at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow on Sunday.
Cronje, the national record-holder in the 1500m, clocked 3 minutes 36.83 seconds just behind Kenyan Asbel Kiprop who won in 3.36.28, and American Matthew Centrowitz in second with 3:36.78.
Not only was it the first time a South African featured in the top eight of the event at the world championships, it was also the only medal the South African team claimed at the Moscow games.
After the race, Cronje said had not expected to be up on the podium.
"I believed in myself - but I wouldn't have put money on myself", said Cronje.
Cronje found himself boxed in during the race, and fancied with a better approach he could have grabbed silver.
"I'm a bit disappointed I was a few split-seconds from second.
"I think if I wasn't boxed in I could have snatched that one, but I had a terrible tactical race," said the Bloemfontein speedster who had initially expected a fast race.
Asbel Kiprop took control of the race from the gun, pulling the field through 400m, and Cronje found himself boxed in on the kerb initially in fifth, then dropping back to eighth with 300m to go.
"I couldn't go fast as everyone was on my right and I had Centrowitz ahead.
"It was only the last 60 I had to go past as that's when it opened up (on the inside)."