Cronjé defends street mile title

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South Africa’s best 1500m and mile athlete of all time, Johan Cronjé (Kovsies), had no problems defending his title successfully at the sixth annual Dagbreek residence Street Mile at Stellenbosch University on Saturday. This was his third victory in succession.

Cronjé won the race by the proverbial sea mile when he clocked a time of 4:04:80. In the process, he left the respective silver and bronze medal local Stellenbosch athletes, Llewellyn Groenewald (4:11,90) and Casper Labuschagne (4:15,00), way behind.

Cronjé ran a dream mile (under 4 minutes) when he won the same race last year, halting the stopwatch at 3:59,49. This makes him the only athlete to have achieved this distinction since the inception of the race.

Courant spoke to Cronjé afterwards to establish whether he was satisfied with his performance: “I would love to have dipped under four minutes again, but I knew it would be difficult. Reason being, I am on a serious base training program currently and pure speed sessions are not on the agenda. The Olympics (Rio de Janeiro) is only in August and all my training is planned for peaking in Rio.”

The Dagbreek Street Mile meeting has been put in place to commemorate the first South African athlete who achieved a dream mile on the track, De Villiers Lamprecht. Lamprecht claimed this legendary performance more than 51 years ago when he clocked 3:59,7 on the then cinder track of Coetzenburg stadium in Stellenbosch (13 November 1964). He was a resident of Dagbreek residence and was also the first athlete in the world to run a dream mile barefoot.

Lamprecht, who later in his career became a lecturer and professor in anatomy at Kovsies, was coincidentally the coach of Cronje’s father and mother, Danie and Sarina, who earned their Springbok colors in middle distance running in the late 1970s and early 1980s. – RUFUS BOTHA