Geraldine up for Yellow Pages Meet

Spring queen Geraldine Pillay is looking forward to competition in her first Yellow Pages event entered.

Spring queen Geraldine Pillay is looking forward to competition in her first Yellow Pages event entered.

Three Beijing Olympic qualifiers, a national junior record and several personal best performances are the highlights of the first half of the 2008 Yellow Pages Series, achieved at the meets held in Secunda (January 19), Potchefstroom (February 1), and eThekwini (February 8). 

Now three more Yellow Pages meets are to be staged, first in Ekurhuleni on Friday, followed by Oudtshoorn on 1 March, and finally in Tshwane on 7 March, where top South African athletes will be going all-out to achieve the Olympic A qualifying standard.

This is a very basic requirement for anyone hoping to make the trip to Beijing. Competing in their specialty for the first time since the World Athletics Championships in Osaka Japan, and in Potchefstroom, the field events provided the bulk of Olympic attention.

These included javelin throwers Sunette Viljoen (58.51) and Justin Robbeson (57.86), who have three more Yellow pages outings to step up to the more stringent A standard.

World Youth Champion Tazmin Brits’ (53.80) effort in Potchefstroom was well inside the qualifier for the World Junior Championships. However the surprise of the day came from the Free State hammer thrower Marizette Badenhorst whose 50.30 effort is a new South Africa Junior record. Eslewhere, Marike Steyn set a personal best of 12.25m in triple jump.

It is expected that all the athletes who have achieved qualifying standards for the IAAF World Junior Championships should produce similar performances at the ASA Youth and Junior Championships in April for them to be considered into the provisional team.

Meanwhile, former Africa 100m and 200m women’s champion Geraldine Pillay has been watching from the sidelines as younger athletes made their presence felt during the first half of the Yellow Pages Series, and now faces her stiffest domestic challenge yet, at her first appearance of the Yellow Pages Series meetings this year in Germiston Stadium, Ekurhuleni on Friday.

"The Federation must be praised for arranging track and field meetings of a high standard, and their value are partly measured by the fact that we athletes seek our qualifiers from here," says Pillay.

Over the years several national sprints records at both senior and under-23 age groups have been set on this track, and as a result, the Germiston meeting is a favourite venue among sprinters aiming to qualify for the Beijing Olympic Games.

But Pillay has no illusions about the enormity of the challenge she faces, and says she relishes the prospect of being hard pressed to prevail over her youthful opponents. "It was a very good idea to re-locate from Jamaica and return back home this season," says Pillay.

"I am impressed by the encouraging performances of my younger opponents like Nombulelo Mkenku (the Africa 100m and 200m junior champion), the vastly improved Isabel le Roux, and Tsholofelo Shipe. This old lady (referring to herself) will have to be at her best when she faces the spirited challenge on Friday."

Pillay confirmed she has fully recovered from the right calf and Achilles heel injury that affected her performance last year. However, she says, it had been her strategy to miss the first half of the Yellow Pages series.  "Once I was fit again, I began training and have been training on a 21 day cycle. I did not want to interrupt this cycle of training with early competition. Now I am ready for every Yellow Pages Series meeting all the way to the Senior Nationals Championships next month," says Pillay.

Clearly the 11.32 and 23.00 seconds A standard for the Beijing Olympic qualifiers do not seem to be her primary concern. Instead Pillay dropped a hot hint. "Three years ago I started the season in Potchefstroom with 11.02 and 22.09 in the 100m and 200m respectively.

"Evette de Klerk’s national 100m record of 11.06 was set in Germiston 18 years ago. That is a long time. So those who were planning to do other things on Friday should change plans and come over to Germiston for something even better," Pillay declared.


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