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22 June 2022 | in NUSF News

Successful debut for University of the Western Cape’s Operation Room

Long jumpAll images courtesy of the University of the Western Cape Facebook Page


This year’s South African University Sports Association (USSA) Athletics Championships marked not only a highly successful national sporting competition, but a landmark inaugural event for hosts University of the Western Cape on their brand-new tartan track.


Taking place over three days in May, 440 athletes from twenty university teams from across South Africa descended upon the Mother City, Cape Town, for this year’s highly anticipated event, pitting the country’s top university athletes against each other in 79 separate track and field events.


The international-level track was only completed last year, as the University of the Western Cape made the most of the Covid-19 enforced break to complete a much-needed revamp of their 30-year-old athletics track. The ‘Operation Room’ – as the venue has been nicknamed – was abuzz with excitement and anticipation for the track’s first event.


The highlight, as is often the case at athletics meets, was the 100m dash in both the women’s and men’s events, crowning the fastest university athletes in the land.


In the women’s 100m event, North West University’s Tamzin Thomas was the athlete to beat across the entire competition. After comfortably winning her heat and then dipping below 12 seconds in her semi-final, the 24-year-old was unbeatable in the final, clocking an impressive 12.02 seconds to take home the gold, with University of Pretoria duo Phindile Kubheka and Rose Xeyi in second and third respectively.

100m champions Benjamin RIchardsonImage courtesy of the University of the Western Cape Facebook Page


In the men’s 100m final, University of Pretoria’s Benjamin Richardson powered to victory in a blink-and-you-miss-it time of 10.50 seconds, the gold medal serving the South African 100m under-20 champion well ahead of August’s 2022 World Athletics U20 Championships in Colombia. Rounding off the podium in the men’s 100m sprint was North West University duo Theodor Young and Obakeng Baloi.


At the culmination of the athletics spectacle, it was powerhouse University of Pretoria who came away with overall victory, with the capital-based university bagging 12 gold medals and a total of 28 medals. North West University’s 10 goal medals meant a second-place finish overall, followed by the University of Johannesburg, whose athletes collected eight golds.


The bigger success story of the competition, however, was the track’s debut, with University of the Western Cape’s Services Support Manager Glen Bentley immensely proud of the positive feedback received from everyone involved.


“We recently upgraded the UWC Athletics Stadium and obtained a World Athletics Class 2 Certification,” Bentley tells FISU. “University of the Western Cape hosted the 2017 Athletics Championships at the nearby Greenpoint Stadium in Cape Town, which was very successful and strengthened our motivation for the University to make an investment in upgrading our own track.”High jumpImage courtesy of the University of the Western Cape Facebook Page


The University of the Western Cape’s Director of Sport, Mandla Gagayi, was elated with the success of the track’s debut event, and hope this will serve as a boost for more competition’s to be held on the track in future.


“This year’s USSA Athletics was the first ever event to take place on the track,” he says. “The feedback from all the athletes was that the track is fast, and they would like more events to be held there so that they can attempt to break some records.”


Mr Gagayi hinted that the university’s long-term plan will be a possible bid for a future FISU championship. “We will keep upgrading our facility, because it is not yet complete,” he said. “We still need more equipment so we can be fully compliant with World Athletics. And if we can do that, we could even then be ready to host World University Championships.”


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