Though the third and final leg of the Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix was clouded by a technical error which resulted in a faulty clock in Paarl on Thursday night, there was again a sweep of fine performances across a number of disciplines.
If you missed the meeting, here’s how it went down.
5.15pm – The men’s high jump starts, and a small crowd gathers to back junior prodigy Breyton Poole. We’re in the Western Cape, so there’s a lot of support for him tonight, and he goes on to finish second on count back to Chris Moleya. Both athletes clear 2.15pm
5.47pm – Time for the men’s long jump. The guys are competing just metres from the stands, and with Ruswahl Samaai leaping 8.39m with his first attempt, a strong field has the crowd on its feet from the start. Samaai goes on to take the win, jumping beyond 8.10m with all five of his attempts
5.50pm – LJ van Zyl goes out hard in the men’s 400m hurdles and he’s battling with Lindsay Hanekom off the top bend, but they both fade and Cornel Fredericks shuts them down. He wins in 49.68. Good to see him back in form
5.55pm – The men’s javelin throw is underway. Former world champion Julius Yego of Kenya is here. We’re expecting a big throw from him, but he ultimately settles for fourth place with a 73.34m effort. That’s no good
6pm – Anaso Jobodwana hammers it round the bend in the men’s 200m and he looks good for the win, but national champion Luxolo Adams isn’t having it and he bursts past before the line. 19.78! The crowd goes mad. The announcer is gonna have heart failure. But the mixed zone is quiet. In this choppy wind, at sea level? Members of the media glance at one another. Something ain’t right here
6.05pm – Adams’ official time comes through. 20.01. That seems more reasonable. Smashing run from him to set a new personal best. 20.07 for Jobodwana in second place. He’s starting to sizzle
6.10pm – It’s not often we get to watch a mile race at a top-flight meeting, and there’s a strong field for the men’s contest. Rantso Mokopane takes it in 3:58.92. Teenagers George Kusche (3:58.96) and Ryan Mphahlele (3:59.44) both dip under four minutes in second and third
6.20pm – This meeting has become centred around the women’s 1 500m race and there have been whispers of a potential national record, with Caster Semenya in great shape. There’s a feeling of excitement in the air
6.21pm – When Semenya hits 300m with Dom Scott-Efurd in tow, we glance at the clock. It’s not working. Technicians are fiddling with it. Maybe they should have checked that before the meeting started
6.22pm – We notice the clock on the big screen is working. Buya! These girls are moving. Scott-Efurd is still hanging on, and they’re on record pace!
6.24pm – Semenya breaks clear and charges home with the clock on the screen reading 3:56… 3:57… 3:58! SA record!!!
6.25pm – Hang on. The big screen now reads ‘4:02’. There’s a mumble in the mixed zone. We also hear a grumble. A few glances between our colleagues. This clock’s still broken. Good job by those technicians
6.28pm – We get Semenya’s official time. 4:02.50. No record, and the clock is now four seconds out! The sprinters are going to break galactic records tonight
6.50pm – Another strong run from Justine Palframan in the women’s 400m. She’s looking good this season. Her official time is 52.63. Not bad in this wind
7pm – Carina Horn not looking too smooth over the first 50 metres of the women’s 100m sprint, but she hits her rhythm and dips on the line. Easy win. 11.03 on the clock. Not with that run, not in these conditions. At least they’ve got the timing system within a few tenths again, but we’re pretty sure a five-year-old kid could achieve that sort of accuracy. We hear someone swear in the mixed zone. Foul language is more acceptable than a broken clock. We all nod
7.01pm – Horn’s time is ticked off. 11.25. Not her best race, but she’s happy with another win
7.05pm – Akani Simbine reminds everyone he’s still the big boss. He takes the men’s 100m sprint. 9.85… this clock would have been more useful if it had been left at home
7.06pm – Simbine is interviewed by the announcer, who is all sorts of excited. So is the crowd. Isn’t that another SA record? “I don’t know where I stopped the clock but I’m happy with the win,” Simbine tells them. They settle down a bit
7.08pm – Simbine’s official time is 10.08. Another solid run, but not another record. Poor way to end such a fantastic series, which has taken huge strides in creating lucrative opportunities for athletes and promoting the sport. We don’t ask for much, but get the basics right. Like the clock. That needs to work. Every single time. No excuses