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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Munyai beats Makwala, Tshite downs Rotich and new 1500m PB for Sekgodišo in Gaborone

After beating Isaac Makwala for the second time in month, Clarence Munyai is feeling positive about the rest of 2022. The South African 200m national record holder (19.69) produced a measured performance as he won the men’s half lap event at the Gaborone International Meet in Botswana yesterday, which featured the Commonwealth 400m champion and hometown favourite Makwala.

"It was quite nice to come out here and run in Botswana," he told #TheTopRunner. "The crowd was pretty nice and the stadium was quite nice. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's been a long season so far, so I'm just taking it a race at a time. I just had to come out here and execute and I'm happy with the win," he said after clocking 20.44 to win the race ahead of Holland’s Solomon Bockarie (20.60) who out-dipped Makwala (20.65) on the line.

Munyai in action at #Tokyo2021. Photo Credit: Team SA.

Even though the time was slower than the wind assisted 20.03 he ran during the ASA Senior Track and Field Championships in Cape Town a week ago, the 24-year remains upbeat with the quality of his effort which took place moments after a thunderstorm had soaked the blue track of the National Stadium in Gaborone. But having failed to dip under the 20.24 World Championships qualification standard, Munyai is fast running out of time before that competition gets underway in the United States on July 15.

"It's in the legs. I don't wanna put too much pressure on myself thinking about times. The times will come when it really matters because mostly in this sport it's about winning championships. You could have the fastest time and not win championships. So it's about winning races and championships. As the year goes I know we're gonna get it before World Champs, so I'm really excited," explained the 2016 SA 200m champion.

Having finished in the dreaded fourth place at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the man coached the legendary Hennie Kriel knows what it means to carry good form into a major championship only to return without a medal because 2018 was the same year during which he set that scintillating 19.69 SA record. Just twenty years old at the time, he now has the benefit of experience. But things have changed with the emergence of a host of young sprinters who are hungry for big scalps. This was the case at the Green Point Stadium eight days ago when 20-year old Sinesipho Dambile passed Munyai just meters from the finish line to take the national 200m crown.

Munyai crosses the finish line confidently after running a wind assisted 20.03 at the ASA Track and Field Championships in Cape Town. Photo Credit: ASA Media.

"Once you start running the quick times there's no more age. In athletics you can't really think about age. It's about always trying to perform at your best regardless of who's there or who's not there. So I just try to do the best I can at all times. I try not to think about age, but of course it's not nice to be beaten by the young ones. They keep us on our toes," he laughed. "We've got a lot of championships this year - the African Champs, Commonwealth Games and World Champs. This year is about going to these champs and actually doing well, not just showing up," he concluded.

In selected other results from the Gaborone International Meet, Olympic Silver medalist Christine Mboma of Namibia set a new African U20 record with a 10.97 clocking in the 100m before flying to a dominant 21.87 in the 200m. Prudence Sekgodišo bettered her personal best for the second time in as many weeks when she won the women's 1500m in 4:09.88, while three-time SA champion Tshepo Tshite (1:45.88) showed great tactical acumen to defeat Olympic and World Championship medalist Ferguson Rotich of Kenya (1:46.63) in an entertaining 800m. But it was 18-year-old homeboy Letsile Tebogo who sent the crowd to their feet when he won the men's 100m ahead of Benjamin Richardson (10.08) and Henricho Bruintjies (10.16) in a new national and U20 World Record of 9.96, becoming the first Motswana to run under the hallowed 10 second barrier.

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