Glasgow - There were no finals involving Team South Africa’s athletes on the
penultimate day of track and field competition on Friday… but there’ll
definitely be four of them on Saturday.National 1 500m champion Johan Cronje kept SA hopes of more medals alive and
kicking with a cool and classy effort that automatically sent him into
And he was followed during the course of the evening by Khotso Mokoena in the
triple jump, Rocco van Rooyen in the javelin and then the 4x100m relay team.
Cronje ended third behind dangerman Ronald Kwemoi of Kenya (3:39.40) in 3:40.17
with the first four booking their place in the final.
Cronje went off in the second of two heats (effectively semi-finals), along
with 11 rivals.
Going into his round, apart from Kenyan Ronald Kwemoi (3:28.81) he was the
fastest man in his heat this season with a 3:33.31 clocking.
At 30 years of age he was also the oldest man of the 25 athletes
entered into the heats.
"I was never stressed in this one,’ he said afterwards, after loping along in
around 10th spot for the opening half. Then with just over 600m to go he moved
up smoothly down the back straight to hit the front and keep the pace honest.
"I just wanted to stay out of trouble because its often with around 500-600m to
go that the pushing and bumping starts.
"I was fortunate to run the second heat so knew what the first heat’s times
were and what I had to do."
Looking ahead to Saturday’s final and Cronje said it’s going to be ‘tough’.
"The Kenyan guy (Kwemoi) that won my heat will be one to watch, Nick Willis,
even the Scottish guy Chris O’Hare with home town support."
He then went on to predict a winning time of ‘around 3:38-40, well that’s my
feeling. I reckon the first half will be quite slow and then we’re going to
have a fast second half.
"Hopefully I have left my 'fast' race for here. Quite a few of the guys here
ran pretty quickly in Monaco a few weeks back but I’m hoping this will be mine.
Unfortunately, unlike some of the other guys, I don’t tend to run many quick
races within the space of a short time."
The first heat was won by Kiwi Nick Willis in 3:40.76.
Mokoena was next to book his place and he needed just one impressive jump to
take him through. A 16.69m effort was his opening and that was all he needed.
"I just wanted a 16.40m to get me through."
The last time the former Olympic long jump silver medallist did the triple jump
at this level was a long eight years ago. ‘That was at the Melbourne
Commonwealth Games.’ he laughed. I did it at national level this year but not
at this high international level. It’s coming back bit by bit, the triple jump.
"There’s still plenty in the tank for tomorrow. The trick is just to take it
day by day and get the job done.
Thanks to God and my coach Emmarie Fouche, we’re
Then it was Van Rooyen in the javelin. He needed a 78m to go through
automatically and opened with a 71.55. He improved that to a 72.79 and his
third and final effort was a 77.57, which was still good enough to put him
among the top 12 throwers.
"It took me a while to get the rhythm going," said the youngster.
"My arm was a
little bit high but the armspeed is good.
"I took a longer run-up for my third row and that helped. Tomorrow I need to be
a lot more explosive and start more like I finished today. I know I can unleash
Pushed for what it will take to medal he said: "I’d say a win would take around
83-84m, silver about 82-83 and then a podium around 79.80.
"The good thing is that my injuries are staying away for the main. My elbow is
still a bit sore but it’s better when it warms up."
Final SA participation of the night saw the men’s relay team go directly into
the final, courtesy of a second placed finish in the third and final heat.
The first two teams in each heat went through automatically and the next two
fastest teams joined them.
Trinidad and Tobago won the first heat in 38.33, then Olympic legend Usain Bolt
anchored Jamaica to victory in the second heat (38.99).
Then it was the turn of Hendricho Bruintjies, Simon Magakwe, Ncincilili Titi
and Akani Simbine to show their stuff. They had a fluid team effort, taking a
comfortable second in 38.91 behind England (38.78).
Said elder statesman Magakwe: ‘It was an awesome experience. The first job was
just to qualify. Our changeovers can definitely improve but our main mission
tomorrow is just to get on to that podium.