Gift stuns Wayde in Bloemfontein

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Gift Leotlela, Wayde van Niekerk, Emile Erasmus - Morgan Piek PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

The world 400m record holder, Wayde van Niekerk, was beaten on Wednesday night during the 100m sprint at the Athletics Speed Series 2 meet at the Mangaung Athletics Stadium in Bloemfontein.

As was expected it was a head-to-head battle between Van Niekerk and the 19-year-old Gift Leotlela in the men’s 100m A Final.

Leotlela came from behind to pip both Van Niekerk and Emile Erasmus to the line. The time was given as handheld time after the official clock once again malfunctioned. The general rule of thumb is that 0.20 seconds is added to handheld time.

The results indicate that Leotlela won the race in 10 seconds, while Van Niekerk and Erasmus crossed in joint second in 10.10 seconds, however, it’s not sure if these World Championship qualifying times will stand or not.

Van Niekerk conceded losing was a bitter pill to swallow but he must just be patient with his 100m sprint.

“The truth be told, it was a tough one to swallow,” said Van Niekerk.

“I need to keep in mind that I need to be patient, it’s still early days for myself in the 100m.

“I still have a lot of hard work lying ahead, so I need to swallow that pill and work hard for the upcoming races.

“It’s the Free State Championships coming up this weekend, it’s going to be quite a tough one because I’m going to try and triple up (run the 100m, 200m and 400m) just to get that speed and durance back again.

“As you can see I’m rusty and have a lot of work to do”.

The former HTS Louis Botha scholar, Leotlela in his turn hardly had words to describe what it felt like beating the World and Olympic champion.

“It’s feels amazing actually,” said the Tuks sprinter.

“It was a good race. I needed to run against fast guys to see where my fitness level is at.

“When Wayde broke the world record last year, it just motivated all of us to do better, and we are getting better as a result”.

In the B Final Le Roux van Tonder clocked 10.09 sec to beat Keenan Michau (10.12) of Tuks and Hendrik Maartens (10.15) of Kovsies. This race preceded the race which Leotlela won and was recorded on the official clock. Technically speaking this makes Van Tonder the fastest sprinter on the night, however, the two races times do not get combined.

The third leg of the Speed Series will take place next week Wednesday in Potchefstroom. – MORGAN PIEK

VIDEO: MANFRED SEIDLER

Click for complete ASA Speed Series II results