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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'Hopefully they'll see me after this' - Richardson secures Olympic qualification in memorable 200m victory

When Benjamin Richardson lined up for the final of the men's 200m at the Athletics South Africa Senior Track & Field Championships yesterday afternoon he had a point to prove. That point was not to beat 400m World Record holder Wayde van Niekerk but rather to show the ASA Social Media team that he deserved to have been included in the pre-event billing that saw some of the country's top stars turned into superheroes as part of a campaign to promote the nation's premier track and field meet.

Richardson cruises to victory to secure a maiden SA Senior Track & Field title. Photo Credit: Lifutso Mabua.

"They told them to make their own superhero names. So I see Viwe (Jingqi) doing hers and I see everyone doing theirs and I feel left out because you know I've done things for SA. If they gave me the opportunity I would made a dope one. But it's fine, hopefully they'll see me after this," laughed the man who won silver and bronze in the 100m at the 2021 and 2022 World U20 Championships respectively.

It wasn't fine and they did see him. Setting off with van Niekerk on his outside and 2022 champion Sinesipho Dambile on his inside, the man who turns 21 in December stormed to the joint ninth fastest time in South African history as he stopped the clock in 20.16 to secure automatic qualification for the Olympic Games. Slowing down as he neared the finish line the University of the North West top runner announced himself as the nation's best 200m athlete as van Niekerk settled for the silver medal (20.31) and World U20 200m bronze medalist Dambile took bronze (20.37).

Richardson and van Niekerk embrace after an entertaining men's 200m final at the ASA Senior Track & Field Championships at the Msunduzi Athletics Stadium in Pietermaritzburg. Photo Credit: Lifutso Mabua.

"Very promising right now. I'm very happy with the amount of effort that I put in. He (van Niekerk) beat me when I was in Matric two or three years ago. He's Wayde - it doesn't matter when his last 200m was because he's got that experience. He can come in and take everyone on. I feel like I'm here now and I don't want someone pushing me around. He does the 400m, but there's someone new in the 200m and that's me."

After that landmark performance the youngster who did his schooling at Nelspruit Primary School will now shift his focus to the 200m after initially making a name for himself over the shorter sprint. Richardson who is the holder of a 10.08 100m lifetime best says the work they have been doing with coach Paul Gorries this year has convinced him that his future as a half lap sprinter is bright.

Richardson's training partner Viwe Jingqi chose Golden Girl as her Super Hero name. Photo Credit: ASA Media.

"Everyone said that and I didn't really wanna believe it but training times and my runs have been proving it. Everyone says a sub 20 will come before a sub 10 and I'm starting to believe that. I came here thinking I'll do the 100m as well. But the day before we decided to do just one event. Everyone in our group is focusing on just one event because this is a different programme compared to how it always is. So we have to adapt and put all of our energy into one thing and the 200m is the most promising right now."

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