Senekal grabs gold at African champs
Nelson Mandela University student athlete Ischke Senekal continued to show she can perform at the highest level when she won the shot put gold medal at the African Athletics Championships on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Bestmed Madibaz Athletics Club member completed a memorable meeting in Asaba, Nigeria, after opening the weekend on Friday with a bronze medal in the discus event.
Senekal, who qualified for the Commonwealth Games earlier this year but was not included in the South African squad, said it was extremely satisfying to return with the gold medal.
“I know what I can do and this was just another opportunity to prove that I can compete on the big stage,” she said, reflecting on her heave of 17.24m which won the gold.
Heading into the tournament, she had definitely been focused on earning spots on the podium, Senekal said.
“I wasn’t really sure what [medals] I could achieve, but early on in the shot put I could see my chances of getting the gold were fairly good, so I really worked hard on that one.”
Her performances in Nigeria resulted in her being included in the African team which will compete in the Continental Cup in the Czech Republic on September 8 and 9.
“Having finished in the top two at the African Championships earned me selection for the Continental Cup,” she said.
“I am really looking forward to competing on a bigger stage and there will definitely be some very tough competition at that meeting.”
The Continental Cup is the only athletics meeting where the teams compete as continents, rather than individual countries, meaning the standard is extremely high.
Senekal is relishing the challenge after another outstanding year in which she achieved a personal best in the shot put event.
This came at the University Sport South Africa meeting when she threw a distance of 17.56m at Sasolburg.
“It started with the nationals, where I won the shot put and discus titles for the third year in a row.
“Then came Ussa with my personal best, followed by the World Cup in London, where I ended fourth in the shot put and seventh in the discus against some of the best athletes in the world.
“And just when I think my season is over I make the African team for the Continental Cup.”
Bestmed Madibaz athletics manager Nellis Bothma said Senekal’s achievements were just reward for all the effort she had put in.
“The more opportunities she gets to compete at a higher level the better she will become because it provides great motivation,” he said.
“We are also proud of sprinter Luxolo Adams, who continues to show his prowess at the end of a very long season,” Bothma said. Adams came home from the African Championships with a bronze medal in the 200m in 20.60, missing out on silver by less than 100th of a second.
The race was won by compatriot Ncincilili Titi in 20.46.