Leotlela achieves second fastest time at sea level in South Africa
Tlotliso Leotlela achieved the second fastest time ever at sea level in South Africa when he won the 200 metres at the South African Junior and Youth Championships in Cape Town in a time of 20,28 s.
Had defending national junior champion Clarence Munyai (TuksSport High School) not withdrawn, the winning time in the final might have been even faster. Munyai was determined to improve the South African junior record of 20,10 s that he set in March .
‘I felt a slight pain in my quad so I decided to withdraw from the final. I did not want to risk aggravating it as I really wanted to give it my all and try to defend my South African senior title. I know that with Wayde van Niekerk, Anaso Jobodwana and Akani Simbine contesting, the 200 metres in Potchefstroom is going to be tough challenge,’ explained Munyai.
Leotlela said afterwards that he was slightly surprised at his time. ‘Honestly, I did not expect to run 20,28 s. I was hoping that Clarence would run as we usually push each other to run a fast time. When he withdrew, it was left to me to challenge the stopwatch on my own. I did what I had to do. When I saw the time that I ran, I was really happy. Now I am just looking forward to my next race.’
At last year’s African Championships in Durban, Wayde van Niekerk (Olympic and World 400 metres champion) won the 200 metres in 20,02 s.
Since 2014, only Jobodwana (19,87 s in Beijing in 2015), Van Niekerk (19,94 s in Lucerne in 2015), Simbine (19,95 s in Pretoria in ) and Munyai (20,10 s in Pretoria in ) have clocked faster times than Leotlela.
Last year, Leotlela won a silver medal in the 200 metres at the World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, and followers of athletics predict that he will run a sub-ten-second race in the 100 metres sometime this season – possibly at the South African Senior Championships in Potchefstroom.
The Tuks athlete is a very consistent sprinter. Last year he regularly clocked times of 10,20 s and this year he smashed Simbine’s South African junior record by 0,07 s when he ran a time of 10,12 s. Two weeks ago at the Varsity Athletics Meeting at Tuks, he equalled his own record.
Leotlela’s performances in the three 100-metre races he has competed in this season have been impressive. Apart from his two record-breaking races, he has also managed to beat Van Niekerk in Bloemfontein.
Should Leotlela dip under ten seconds before 12 May, his birthday, he would be only the second 18-year-old to do so. Officially, Trayon Bromell (USA) is the only 18-year-old athlete to have run the 100 metres in under 10 seconds. In 2014, at 18 years and 338 days old, he ran it in 9,97 s. Mark Lewis (Britain) also ran a time of 9,97 s in 2001 when he was 18 years and 334 days old. Unfortunately, there was no wind reading so his time is not official.
– Author Wilhelm de Swardt
Share this page
Tlotliso Leotlela (Photo credit: Reg Caldecott)