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18 March 2019 | in Summer Universiade, Athletics

South African student athletes tuning up for Napoli 2019

Record breaking night in South Africa’s Varsity Sports opener


POTCHEFSTROOM, South Africa -- The first sports event in South Africa’s premier university sport tournament ‘Varsity Sport’ concluded in spectacular fashion on Friday evening as records tumbled in an action-packed athletics competition.

Varsity Sports is a group of university sports leagues in South Africa which pits the country’s best university athletes against each other in various sports throughout the year, including athletics, cricket, rugby 7s, netball, basketball, football, hockey and mountain biking. Points are awarded based on results at each sports tournament and accumulated thereafter to crown the victorious Varsity Sports champion at the end of the year.


The second of two Athletics meets took place at the Kenneth McArthur Stadium in Potchefstroom, with locals arriving in numbers to witness university athletics’ premier competition. And they weren’t disappointed, with a host of new records being set in various events throughout the evening.


North-West University long jumper Eljone Kruger, jumping in front of her home crowd, was named Victrix Ludorum – the tournament’s overall female champion – as she broke her own Varsity Athletics record with a leap of 6.49m, bettering her previous mark by four centimetres. “I’m just so glad to be able to do it in front of the home crowd, it really was an amazing event,” Kruger said. “I’m so glad to be healthy, jumping and I am looking forward to the rest of the season.”


A timing issue at the previous event in Stellenbosch denied University of Pretoria 1500m runner Aynsley van Graana record in her previous race, but she made up for it with a blistering performance in Potchefstroom, her winning time of 4:23.81 improving upon the race’s 2014 record by three seconds.


In the 110m hurdles, NWU student Tiaan Kleynhans beat the previous record by 0.19 seconds, sprinting home in a time of 13.73 seconds in front of his home crowd.


“It feels great, I’ve been struggling with a few injuries but it feels great running at my home field. It is just one great experience!” Kleynhans said. 


In the men’s hammer throw, Tshepang Makhete (left) set a new Varsity Athletics record as well with a throw of 71.26 metres, while in the men’s discus, former youth world champion Werner Visser (below, right), who broke the event’s record two weeks ago with a heave of 59.57 metres, couldn’t quite break his personal best, but still won the event with an impressive 59.02 metre throw.


In one of the most anticipated events of the night, favourites Chederick van Wyk from NWU and Nelson Mandela University’s Luxolo Adams went head to head in the 200m sprint. The duo had finished tied-first two weeks ago, but Adams claimed victory this time in a jaw-dropping 20.71 seconds, just 0.04 seconds ahead of Van Wyk, who did however taste gold on the night after winning the 100m sprint in a time of 10.23 seconds.


In the end, with all the results from the different sports tallied from the two athletics events, it was hosts North West University who emerged victorious, racking up a total of  31,277 points to be crowed the 2019 Varsity Athletics champions. In so doing, they ended University of Pretoria’s three-year dominance of the event as they ended second with 31,087 points, with University of Johannesburg finishing third.


With the FISU Summer Universiade just four months away, Varsity Athletics manager Jana Arlow feels the competition has provided the perfect preparation for these student athletes aiming to make the squad for Napoli, and beyond.


“We are so excited that Varsity Athletics is so perfectly placed to assist athletes in their qualifying for the Summer Universiade in July in Italy,” she said. “Also, with 2020 being an Olympic year, I hope that our meets will assist athletes to grow and improve, with their eye on 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.”


NWU crowned 2019 Varsity Athletics champions

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