Pretoria - South African women's 400m hurdles champion Wenda Theron reached her first Olympic qualifying time at the SA Open athletics meeting in Pretoria on Friday.
She ran a time of 54.79 seconds in the heats, dipping below the qualifying mark of 55.50 and in the process recording the third fastest time by a South African.
Ahead of her on the all-time best list is Myrtle Bothma who holds the national record of 53.74 while Surita Febbraio boasts the second fastest time of 54.05.
Theron said she felt she could only get faster and would go all-out to finally book her place for the London Olympic Games in July.
“At this stage I see each race -- whether it is a heat, a final or whatever – as an opportunity to qualify,” Theron said.
“I decided that the conditions were perfect, and you never know what tomorrow will bring, so I just decided to go flat out and it was fun.”
Theron, who has participated in 14 races already this year, said she was starting to doubt whether or not she would reach the qualifying mark.
“My season didn’t start off so great, but I was still excited that I at least ran 57s and not 58s or 59s,” she said.
“I started to doubt whether it was in me, but when I broke the 56 second barrier at the SA's, I realised that it was always my dream and I would go for it and it was within reach.”
She said her rhythm worked out perfectly which translated into her using less energy than usual.
“I think the adrenaline and the excitement also made me forget about being tired.”
Theron will feature in Saturday's final of her specialist event.
South African sprinting sensation Simon Magakwe once again lit up the local scene in the 100 metres.
Magakwe ran a quick semi-final in a time of 10.13 seconds before the afternoon’s final which he won in 10.18 sec.
Roscoe Engel finished second in 10.29 with Hannes Dreyer in third place posting a time of 10.30.
Magakwe, however, failed to break the 10-second barrier, a feat he was confident about reaching on Friday.
He felt if it was not for the two metre-per-second head wind, he would have made history.
“The wind, it was minus two-point something, so bad luck for me because I was looking for at least for 9.89,” said Magakwe.
“So the weather disappointed me.”
The national champion for the last four seasons broke new ground in his career in Johannesburg last week, clocking 10.06 seconds to equal the SA record set by Johan Rossouw in 1988.
By frequently running times in the region of 10.1, it should only be a matter of time before Magakwe breaks the elusive 10-second mark.
He has been running extensively this season but felt he would be able to keep up the fast times until the Games.
“I am proud of myself running 10.1s even if it is bad weather,” he said.
It still needed to be confirmed whether or not the meeting had international status, which could confirm Magakwe’s place in the South African Olympic team.
He will attempt to book his place at the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava, Czech Republic on May 25 where he will be running against world class competition in world record holder over the 100m Usain Bolt and other athletes who have run under 10 seconds.
German world record holder in the hammer throw Betty Heidler recorded the second best distance of the season when she shone with a distance of 76.66 metres.
Heidler’s compatriot Kathrin Klaas finished second with a throw of 75.13m while South African Nannette Stapelberg was third with lowly 52.42m.
Some shine was taken off the meeting when world 400m champion Amantle Montsho of Botswana, who was scheduled to participate in the meeting, did not pitch.