Steenkamp’s Road to Continental Cup Final

Rikenette Steenkamp celebrating victory at IAAF World Cup. Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images Europe

Four-time national 100m hurdles champion Rikenette Steenkamp,25, will look to end her track and field season on a high note, at the International of Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Continental Cup, in Ostrava, in Czech Republic.

Steenkamp from Waterkloof in Pretoria is part of a 20-member South African contingent that will represent Africa at the IAAF Continental Cup.

SA who will make up more than quarter of the 74-member African team that includes 39 men and 35 women.

Athletes qualified for the continental showpiece based on performances at the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) African Senior Championships, in Nigeria, earlier this month. However, only two athletes were selected per event and only one athlete considered from each country per event.

The IAAF Continental Cup will feature squads from Africa, Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe is a team event that will be based on a point system over two-days that will see athletes compete in a straight final.

Steenkamp who will compete in her second IAAF Continental Cup after she finished fifth in 2014 said she has high expectations for the competition.

“I am pleased to have been chosen to represent African at the IAAF Continental Cup. To go up against the best athletes in the world is just the type of exposure I need. I am a different athlete from four years ago and will approach this meet with more experience and confidence. Every race has a different story, a different context and a different goal. My goal for this race is to finish off my season well and to focus on executing my own race,” she said.

Steenkamp, a final year student at the University of Pretoria could have not asked for a better 2018 season after she broke the national 100m hurdles record and then a few weeks later she shattered her own record clocking 12.81 seconds at the La Chaux-de-Fonds meet, in Switzerland. She also took the gold medal in the 100m hurdles, at the inaugural IAAF Athletics World Cup, last month and finished second in the same event, at the CAA African Senior Championships, that saw her qualify for the IAAF Continental Cup.

“I had a slow start to my season but when I look back, it worked out well for me. I focused more on the European circuit and I believe those competitions brought out the best in me. I am very pleased with what I have achieved and look forward to my last race of the season,” she said.

The former Menlopark pupil bounced back in fine style following her Grade 1 hamstring tear at the end of 2017 and was out of competition for two years prior to 2017 after she went for an ankle operation in 2016.

“I had to be really patient in the beginning of this season (2018). It wasn’t easy but I had to listen to my body. I have much respect for my coach Hennie Kriel for managing me well in those times. The moment that I broke the national record was a huge breakthrough for me and a major milestone in my career. I will forever be grateful for that moment and I will use the memory of that moment to motivate me on my journey ahead,” she said.

Steenkamp said her message to upcoming athletes is not to put pressure on themselves at an early age.

“It is evident that we lose too many athletes after school. It is important to enjoy what you do and progress slowly. Do not compare yourself with others but enjoy your journey with them.  I believe everyone’s story is unique,” she said.

 

Written by Keagan Mitchell