Kyle Blignaut wins SA’s first gold in Finland
Wearing his heart on his sleeve and holding a 6kg steel ball in his hand‚ Kyle Blignaut clinched victory with his penultimate throw at the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland, on Tuesday.
The 18-year-old’s triumph gave SA their first gold on the opening day of the competition‚ but it required serious bottle.
Blignaut had taken the early lead with his opening two attempts of 20.89m and 21.12m‚ but in the fifth round American Adrian Piperi‚ 19‚ unleashed an enormous 22.06m that not only gave him the lead but also rocketed him to fifth on the all-time Under-20 world list.
Blignaut retaliated immediately‚ stepping into the circle and heaving the shot 1cm further.
"Adrian brought the best out of me with that big shot‚" Blignaut was quoted as saying on the IAAF’s competition website.
Odysseas Mouzenidis of Greece‚ also 19‚ took the bronze exactly 1m behind the South African on 21.07m.
When they graduate to senior competition these three will have to deal with a shot that weighs 7.26kg.
World Under-18 champion Zeney van der Walt from SA easily made the step up to Under-20 as she crunched the fastest time of the 400m hurdles heats on Wednesday.
Van der Walt was the only one to dip under 58sec as she won her heat in 57.78sec.
Canada’s Xahria Santiago was second fastest overall in 58.09‚ with Shiann Salmon of Jamaica next best in 58.14.
The matric pupil at the Afrikaanse Hoër Meisieskool in Pretoria‚ who turned 18 in May‚ is younger by at least several months than her two closest rivals — and she has a faster personal best than both.
Van der Walt clocked 55.05sec, finishing second at the South African senior championships behind Olympian Wenda Nel earlier in 2018.
Meike Strydom advanced to the final of the women’s shot put later on Wednesday. Gabriel Louw advanced to the men’s 400m semifinals.