Teenager Sokwakhana Zazini set a new World Youth 400m Hurdles record, clocking 48.84* to win the Under-18 men's one-lap hurdles final on the opening day of the Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) Championships last Friday. The 16-year-old Tuks Sport High School student took 0.17 off the 10-year-old world youth best of 49.01 previously held by American athlete William Wynne. While fellow South African L.J van Zyl clocked 48.89 at the age of 16 to win the world junior title in 2002, his performance was not considered for record purposes as he was competing in an U-20 event.
Making a significant impact in the early stages of the 2017 season, Luvo Manyonga made history at the same meeting, smashing the national and African Long Jump records. The TuksSport athlete, who earned silver at last year's Rio Olympics, delivered the finest attempt of 8.62m* to secure the provincial title. He shattered the South African and continental mark, which was set by fellow Olympic silver medallist Khotso Mokoena in Madrid in July 2009, by 14 centimetres. Manyonga bettered his own career record, set in Brussels in September last year, by 14cm.Again showing consistency, after an impressive series of jumps at the ASA Speed Series 2 Meeting in Bloemfontein last week, he leaped beyond 8.30m with all four of his legal attempts in Pretoria. With this performance, Manyonga joins Jamaican athlete James Beckford in a tie for 12th place in the all-time world rankings, and stuck up his hand as one of the early favourites for the IAAF World Championships in London in August.
“This is beautiful!” boomed a completely excited Aleck Skhosana, the President of Athletics South Africa. “It looks like we are in for exciting times, if these early season top performances are anything to go by.“We are very happy to see that ambitious athletes have set their sights not only to meet our strict qualifying standards, but firmly at international records as well. “We congratulate Zazini and Manyonga for smashing the respective records and encourage them to keep their eyes on the main prize this year of participating in the IAAAF World Championships should they make it into the final team.“We give special credit to the respective coaches of the two athletes for their achievement tonight,” said Skhosana. * All SA records and world bests are subject to standard ratification processes