BackTrack Athlete of the Week!

Week 31
5-11 July
With all the spots booked and the official squad selected it was all about athletes pursuing personal best performances and records in the second week of July. The biggest stage for all sportsmen and sportswomen is around the corner and the athletes had personal matters to handle.

Here’s a look at the performances that stood out:

Zeney van der Walt: 400m Hurdles
Van der Walt is getting her groove back with each race she runs in Europe. Van der Walt ran to a solid season best (SB) time whilst competing at Atletica 2000 Meeting in Italy when she stormed to victory in a time of 55.89 seconds.

Gift Leotlela: 100m
Leotlela has been in fantastic form all season and his European circuit has been a testimony of that. “The Gift of Speed” has finished on the podium in all 100m finals that he competed in and this time around at Meeting Stanislas Nancy in France he finished 1st with a time of 10.14 seconds (-0.1w) making it 3 consecutive victories on the trot.

Jerry Motsau: 1500m
Motsau has been in sublime form of late and coming off a victory in Germany he lined up in the 1500m again at the Guldensporenmeeting in Kortrijk, Belgium. Motsau clocked 3:38.67 in a tough contest where he finished in a narrow 2nd place.

Kyle Blignaut: Shot Put
Blignaut has really come a long way into the senior ranks and his European circuit has shown exactly that. Blignaut was in action at the Gyulai István Memorial – Hungarian Athletics Grand Prix and he produced his biggest performance on his European tour with a mark of 20.94m.

Lythe Pillay: 400m
Pillay has grown in leaps-and-bounds in 2021 from running his first sub 45 seconds race on his season opener and repeating this on two other occasions in the SA season before competing at the World Athletics Relays where team SA would run in the final to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Pillay clocked 45.90 seconds on what was his 4th 45 seconds run this season at the Gyulai István Memorial – Hungarian Athletics Grand Prix.

Dominique Scott 1500m
Scott was back in action since breaking her personal best in the 10 000m where she clocked 31:19.89. After a month absence off the track, Scott lined up in the 1500m to polish her speed before the Olympic Games in Tokyo and she would do this at the Sunset Tour, Hughes Stadium in the USA and she finished with an impressive time of 4:08.62 for 4th place.

AOW: Akani Simbine – 100m
Simbine had a sublime week which started in the very same country where he broke the SA record 5 years ago when he clocked 9.89 seconds in Hungary. This time around there was an atmosphere of expectancy when Simbine lined up at the Gyulai István Memorial – Hungarian Athletics Grand Prix and he did not disappoint. Simbine clocked an African Record performance with a time of 9.84 seconds to destroy the field for 1st place. He would then follow this up with a superb 9.98 seconds run at the Herculis, Stade Louis II Diamond League Meeting in Monaco which saw him finish in 2nd place. A fresh personal best 5 years later, and the title of fastest man ever in Africa, has earned Simbine the athlete of the week.

Thanks to all the SA athletes for shining and making South Africa proud with their great performances.

Photo credit: AP Photo

Written by Themba Madima