KAVANAGH AND CHAUMETON: TWO RAPIDLY RISING STARS

Without taking anything away from the rest of South Africa’s top senior athletes, who produced some great racing at the Absa Durban 10k CityRun on Sunday, two athletes showcased their future prospects with superb performances. Tayla Kavanagh and Maxime Chaumeton were brilliant.

Chaumeton had already shown a turn of speed on the track, clocking 3:43.50 over 1 500m at Coetzenburg in March and winning the SA student 5 000m title in 13:59.11 at the high-altitude UJ Stadium in May. In Cape Town two years ago, as a junior, he also clocked 29:14 over 10km to display his talent on the road.

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Over the weekend, however, the 21-year-old athlete flaunted his true potential for the first time, taking fifth place at the national championship contest in 28:30. It wasn’t his position against a loaded domestic field, nor his time, that was most impressive. It was the way he ran. By launching surges and keeping the pace honest, Chaumeton helped set up the victory for training partner Precious Mashele.

Having won the Cape Town Marathon just two weeks earlier, dangerman Stephen Mokoka just couldn’t hang on in a late sprint against Mashele, with Chaumeton having assisted in battering his tired legs into submission. Chaumeton can be aggressive when he straps on his racing shoes. It’s a trait which has got him in trouble a couple of times on the track – he can get a bit pushy in the chase for the line – but it’s also a part of his character which makes him a real threat on the road.

His coach, Hendrick Ramaala, liked to surge in races as well, and he wasn’t scared to run from the front. It was a tactic that worked well when he tore up the field to win the New York Marathon. And if Chaumeton can harness his gutsy approach while staying composed enough to benefit from an aggressive tactical approach, he’ll have the pedigree of a championship racer. And he’ll be very hard to beat. If anything, Kavanagh’s performance in Durban was even more impressive.Like Chaumeton, 20-year-old Kavanagh also showed potential as a junior, clocking 34:18 last season. But she has rocketed up the domestic ladder this year, tearing more than two minutes off her 10km personal best.

In a field which included the likes of Glenrose Xaba, Irvette van Zyl and a resurgent Kesa Molotsane, Kavanagh showed everyone a clean pair of heels on Sunday to win in 32:10, delivering a performance which was all sorts of special. Both athletes produced breakthrough results, and while they’ll need to prove they have the consistency and the staying power if they are to continue their respective climbs to the top, Kavanagh and Chaumeton have the world at their feet. If their results in Durban were any indication, they’ve got the potential to cement themselves among South Africa’s best and the global elite.

Photo credit: Stillwater Sports | Anthony Grote

Written by Wesley Botton