The South African youth team closed out their campaign in fine style on Sunday, bagging three more medals on the final day of the IAAF World U-18 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya.
The squad achieved the nation’s best ever medal haul at a major global athletics championship, earning 11 podium places to finish top of the table. They will return home with five gold, three silver and three bronze.
In the Boys 200m final, Retshidisitswe Mlenga (21.03) and Tshenolo Lemao (21.12) charged to another one-two finish, swapping places after they had also earned gold and silver in the 100m contest earlier in the week.
“I came in very focussed, having made a mistake in the 100m final, which is my favourite race,” Mlenga said. “I followed my coach’s instructions and I’m very happy to have won a gold medal.”
Lemao was also pleased with his performance, despite playing second fiddle to his compatriot over the half-lap distance.
“I am in good form and I went into the race knowing that,” he said. “I am happy we took both gold and silver again.”
In the last event of the five-day championships, the SA Mixed 4x400m Relay Team scooped the bronze medal, with Mlenga, Gontse Morake, and 400m Hurdles champions Soks Zazini and Zeney van der Walt completing the race in 3:24.45.
In other disciplines, Valco van Wyk finished fifth in the Boys Pole Vault final after clearing 4.55m, Robert de Villiers ended 11th in the Boys 2 000m Steeplechase in 6:05.23 and Jana van Schalkwyk was 12th in the Girls Javelin Throw with a best attempt of 47.64m.
“What we have achieved is beyond expression. We are very much excited with what our youth team has achieved,” said Athletics South Africa president Aleck Skhosana.
”It’s not every day you top the world. We are world champions and if feels this good to be perched at the top. We would like to get used to this going forward.”
“SA coaches are climbing the ladder and proving to the world nothing is impossible. Well done to all athletes and the rest of the support team who work behind the scenes,” he added.
— Athletics Africa 🌍 (@athleticsafrica) July 16, 2017