WP trio clean up at high schools’ champs

Marcello Pienaar has had a dream season, clinching gold in the under-19 hurdles at the SA high school championships.

With the South African high schools’ athletics season coming to an end, Western Province’s Marcello Pienaar, Darren Riddles and Azile Madini were in a class of their own, at the national schools’ competition, in Durban, at the weekend.

The northern suburbs hurdlers made it a clean sweep in the boys’ under-19 110m hurdles event, with Marcello, 18, taking the gold medal in a personal best time of 13.89 seconds, followed by Darren, 19, and Azile, 18, in third.

They stunned competition favourite Silusapho Dingiswayo, from Gauteng, who won gold at the African Union Sport Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games, in Angola last year.

Silusapho ran the fastest time in the heats going into the final of the boys’ under-19 110m hurdles at the SA schools’ champs as well.

However, he had to settle for joint fourth place with Free State’s Petrus Jacobs who also ran 14.40 seconds in the final.

Darren’s time of 14.15 seconds was the fastest of the three WP athletes going into the final but it was Marcello who outsmarted them all.

Marcello said it was a great achievement for him to become SA schools’ champion because he knew that he had tough competition.

“I knew that I had to run under-14 seconds to become champion because Darren and Silusapho both ran under-14 seconds this year. What makes this victory even more special was that WP made it a clean sweep,” he said.

The trio have been at it since the northern zone championships at the Bellville Velodrome, in February where Darren was crowned champion, followed by Marcello and Azile.

A week later, at the Western Province high schools’ and junior championships, it was Darren yet again who won the gold medal in a time of 13.94 seconds, followed by Bellville athletics club’s Dean Smith, Marcello and Azile, at Vygieskraal Stadium.

Last month, Marcello came first at the Western Cape high schools’ championships, at Dal Josephat Stadium, in Paarl. He won it in a time of 14.11 seconds that was also a new Western Cape schools’ record, followed by Azile and Darren.

Darren said he is having a great season but believes there is always room for improvement.

“Despite being best friends it is everyone for themselves on the track. Azile and Marcello have kept me on my toes throughout the season.

“It was a joyful moment for us to all be on the podium at the northern zone, WC and SA schools’ championships,” he said.

The three, along with Dean, will now take part in the Athletics South Africa (ASA) junior championships, at the Green Point track this weekend.

Their main rival would of course be Silusapho who will be looking to get one over them.

These athletes have one goal in mind and that is to become ASA youth champion in the boys’ under-20 110m hurdles and to qualify for the african junior championships, in Algeria, later this year.

All five athletes have made the B standard qualification of 14.20 seconds for the African junior champs but only two athletes per country can be selected.

Azile said the plan is to run faster at ASA junior champs and qualify for the African championships.

“I am expecting ASA junior champs to be more challenging because there will be competition from club athletes.

“However, I have identified my mistakes and the plan is to rectify them,” he said.

What makes the trio special is that they all train at Bellville athletics club under the guidance of Alroy Dixon and Marcel Otto, who both have their IAAF level three coaching certificate in sprints and hurdles.

Dixon said it is a great achievement for the province to take a clean sweep of medals in a single event.

“For us as a club and province it shows that competition is healthy right here at home.

“It will be great for them to maintain their form and to better their times,” he said.