Four top international sprinters have infiltrated the City of Roses and are currently training at the Kovsies campus under the guidance of the world-renowned coach, Tannie Ans Botha.
Botha is the coach of Bloemfontein’s world record holder (43,03), world champion and Olympic Games champion in the 400m, Wayde van Niekerk.
The four sprinters from abroad, who are all world class are Curtis Mitchell (USA), Mosito Lehata (Lesotho), Mame-Ibra Anne (France) and the up and coming youth sprinter from Namibia, Ivan Geldenhuys.
The 28-year-old Mitchell boasts an extremely successful University sprinting career at the Texas A&M University. In 2010 he pocketed gold in the 200m at the NCAA indoor championships and his lighting fast time of 20,38 on an indoor track was the fastest in the world for the mentioned year.
His career went from strength to strength, to such an extend that he dipped under the magical 20 seconds in the 200m. This he achieved when he won the bronze medal at the world championships in Moscow in 2013.
Lehata is the Lesotho national record holder in the 100m and possesses a best time of 10,13. He is one of only a handful sprinters who can claim that he has beaten the worlds fastest man in history, Usain Bolt.
The Lesotho ace was in the same first round heat in the 200m as Bolt at the world championships (2013) and beat a coasting Bolt to advance to the semi-finals. Lehata’s best performance must be rated his fourth place at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 where he finished in a respectable fourth place in the 200m final.
The French sprinter, Anne specialises in the 400m and is the bronze medal owner of the Mediterranean Games in the same event in 2013, clocking 45,81.
Anne earned bronze in the 4 x 400m relay with his French team mates at the European championships in 2013, as well.
The Namibian youth star, Geldenhuys has pure gold written all over him. This youngster and his coach, Leoni van Rensburg are both in Bloemfontein to obtain valuable advice from Botha.
Geldenhuys’ preferred event is the 400m, as well. He proceeded to the final in the same event at the world youth championships which was staged in Kenya earlier this year. He made sure the rest of the world’s youth sprinters took serious notice of him by finishing in a decent seventh place with a personal best time of 47,17.
He landed in the long jump pit at a brilliant (for a youth athlete) 7,10m before, but told Courant that he will henceforth concentrate in the 400m only.
His coach (Van Rensburg) who represented the then called South West Africa (Namibia) in the late 1970’s and 1980’s at South African under-17 (youth) and under-19 (junior) level, told Courant: “I knew Tannie Ans when I represented South West Africa (SWA) very well. I used to compete against her daughter and she was team manager of the SWA athletics team several times when I competed. I have the world of respect for her and one can only learn from a legend such as tannie Ans”. – RUFUS BOTHA