Star hurdler sets his sights on SA champs

Azile Madini, centre, finished second overall in the boys under-19 hurdles event.

The Western Cape Sport School’s Azile Madini’s consistent track and field season continued last weekend, when he finished second in the boys’ under-19 110m hurdles event at the Western Cape high schools’ championships, at Dal Josaphat Stadium, in Paarl.

Azile, 18, a Grade 11 pupil, finished in a time of 14.24 seconds to win the silver medal ahead of favourite and WP champion Darren Riddles who finished in third place in a time of 14.61 seconds.

Western Province made it a clean sweep in the boys’ under-19 event at the WC championships with MTBS champion Marcello Pienaar claiming the gold medal, in a time of 14.11 seconds to set a new WC schools’ record.

The competition saw all the top athletes from the Western Province, Boland and South Western District battle for a spot in the Western Cape team to take part in the national high schools’ champs.

The trio have been at it since the northern zone championships, at the Bellville Velodrome, in February, and will compete again, at the South African high schools’ championships, in Potchefstroom, at the weekend.

The youngster began his season with a bang, finishing second in the boys’ under-19 110m hurdles, at the WP northern zone section high schools’ championships.

He followed that up with a bronze medal at the northern zone championships behind Marcello and Darren. Azile then finished in fourth place in a time of 14.71 seconds at the WP schools’ and junior championships, earlier this month.

Azile said his performance at the WC championships was great because he ran a seasonal best.

“The WC champs was a good build up ahead of the national competition.My motivation throughout the athletics season was Marcello and Darren. We are friends but on the track, it is everyone for himself. The SA champs is going to be exciting and I am hoping to get one over both of them to be crowned SA schools’ champion,” he said.

Azile’s breakthrough season came last year when he was crowned Western Cape champion in the boys’ under-17 110m hurdles at the WC championships, at the Green Point track. He went on to finish sixth in the boys’ under-17 110m hurdles event, at the South African high schools’ championships, in Bloemfontein, last year.

“Being crowned WC champion was last season’s highlight. The SA schools’ championships were tough because it was my first time at a major competition but just making the final was an achievement on its own,” he said.

Azile is an admirer of last year’s Rio Olympics semi-finalist Antonio Alkana who was crowned WP champion in the 110m hurdles and 100m sprints at the Western Province senior championships, at the Parow athletics track, earlier this month.

“His technique and speed over the hurdle is superb. He makes it look so simple. He is so humble and someone who I can get advice from,” said Azile.

Alkana said he wishes Azile, Darren and Marcello good luck and hopes they bring the medals home for the Western Cape.

“They need to stay focused and keep putting in the hard work. It is never easy running in a national competition but with the form they are in anything is possible. I’d like to see them take their junior form into senior level and compete on the international circuits such as the Dimond league meets in Europe. Also, to qualify for the Olympics and Commonwealth Games,” he said.