Jo-Ané van Dyk spearheaded South Africa’s medal campaign at the World Under-20 Athletics Championships in Poland on Wednesday as she sealed silver in the women’s javelin event, the team’s first medal of the event.
It took a personal best 57.32 metres to earn that honour as the host nation’s Klaudia Maruszewska took gold with a best effort of 57.59m in Bydgoszcz.
The southern Cape teenager is on a golden run of form right now with a win at the Southern Region Championships in Lusaka, Zamiba a few weeks back and then a personal best at Africa Senior Championships in Durban shortly afterwards.
The good news is that there’s more in the tank for the Heidelberg talent whose best on the night came in the third of her four throws.
‘I feel unbelievably happy and just blessed,’ she told Road to Rio 2016 from Europe as the celebrations continued. ‘It was a really difficult competition and anyone could have won on the day.
‘It was very stressful but luckily I know where my power is coming from. I’m just happy that I could finally medal and I’m hoping to change that silver medal into a gold one at higher level some time soon.’
For now it’s a big switch of priorities. ‘Now I just want to relax a bit and work on my personal relationships as I’ve pretty much been married to javelin competition for the last two months.
‘And then I’ll go into a strong winter programme for next year. But I feel there’s definitely more in the tank and for the first time I feel like that 60m mark is creeping closer slowly but surely.’
In other action featuring South African’s Gift Leotlela was edged off the podium in the men’s 100m final, crossing the line 0.02 behind bronze medallist Mario Burke of Barbados.
Leotlela, who had set a personal best of 10.20 in the semi-finals, just 0.01sec outside Akani Simbine’s national junior record, took fourth place in the medal contest in 10.28. American athlete Noah Lyles won the race in 10.17.
In the high jump, Chris Moleya cleared 2.16m in the qualifying round, progressing safely through to the final, to be contested on Friday.
Jeanelle Griesel clocked a season’s best of 53.68 to finish fourth in her 400m semi-final, but it was not enough to book her place in the final.
Said her excited coach, Jaun Strydom: ‘I’m so proud! This performance moved her up to 13th place in the world rankings. Our first short season together and a great result for her. Well done!!! 2017 will be even better.’
In the women’s 400m hurdles heats Gezelle Magerman was third fastest into the semi-final, the reigning Youth Olympics champion clocking 57.75, a new personal best.
Fastest in to the semi was American Anna Cockrell (56.85).
Said a happy coach, Irma Reyneke: ‘Zella ran really well. So happy for her. This last year was difficult as she adapted to the change from Cape Town to Pretoria. She struggled with her chest for quite a while and had lost of colds and flu problems. I really hope she can build on this run today. She’s very motivated and that personal best comes at the perfect time.’
Mpho Tladi ended sixth in his semi-final of the men’s 110m Hurdles event in 13.80, and Thabo Maganyele was disqualified, so both athletes were eliminated from their specialist discipline.