"My mom told me to dig deep" - Taylon Bieldt after winning 400mH thriller against van der Walt & Nel
So exciting was the action delivered at last night's ASA Grand Prix Series meet that it took multiple slow motion replays and a photo finish to determine the winner of not one, but two races. The scores who had packed into the PUK McArthur Stadium in Potchefstroom for the third track and field meet of five, were first treated to a men's 800m in which Botswana's Tshepiso Masilela only just managed to stave off Jabulane Ncamane's challenge over the last 60 metres to win by two hundredths of a second. And as if that wasn't enough, three athletes crossed the line together in an absolutely thrilling women's 400m hurdles encounter.
"I think I just really wanted a good race," said Taylon Bieldt after the hard-fought race that saw her win by just a hundredth of a second from the fast-finishing Zeney van der Walt, with veteran Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Wenda Nel beaten into third. "My mom also told me before the race that whatever you do, just dig deep. It doesn't matter what you do, just dig deep. You have to find something else at the end. So I think that was what was going through my mind as I crossed over the last hurdle. So I think that's where the strength came from," she told #TheTopRunner.
That 55.80 clocking from an athlete who is better known as a hundred metre hurdler represents a new direction for the woman who claimed the bronze medal in the 100 Metres Hurdles at the All-African Games in Morocco in 2019 and is a two-time SA 100mH champion. "I came away with a nice PB and you always remember you PB races. But I think this is gonna be memorable for a while because running against such amazing, talented athletes and being competitive against them is an awesome feeling," she said.
But it's not just the the time that counts. That brave run on a chilly night in Potch represents hope for the 23-year old who is looking to take her athletic career to the next level in 2022. Because she is a qualified massage therapist who is also completing a postgraduate diploma at the University of Pretoria, Bieldt has been forced to juggle work and training as she chases her running dream. She now hopes that this performance will attract the eye of those who are looking to invest in track and field athletes.
"Hopefully my athletics career can take a little bit more of the limelight when I get some sponsorships going, when I start actually making money out of it. So I'm just really hoping for that. Obviously World Champs would be the top priority, but that would come when I qualify for that. I haven't qualified just yet. Every performance counts, that I just run a PB. So I'm just trying to get a good performance and see where that takes me this season," she smiled.
Caster Semenya was also in action last night winning the women's 2000m (5:50.39) in what turned out to be a solo effort against the clock. Prudence Sekgodisa won the women's 800m by almost four seconds (2:01.89), as she continues to edge closer to that magical two-minute mark. Akani Simbine was beaten into seventh as Luxolo Adams won the men's 200m (20.28), while Kenya's Ferdinand Omanyala prevailed (10.11) over Clarence Munyai (10.20) in the men's 100m. Omanyala and Simbine will clash over the 100m at the fourth ASA Grand Prix Series Meet in Germiston next Wednesday.