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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'Our focus for this year is reaching the final' - Fourie & coach celebrate new record ahead of WC

Almost five years to the day after Rikenette Steenkamp set a new 100m hurdles SA record, Marione Fourie followed suit at precisely the same track and field meet where Steenkamp had run 12.81 on 1 July, 2018. On 2 July 2023 the 21-year-old from Vanderbijlpark in the south of Gauteng, lined up at the La Chaux-de-Fonds meet where she produced a career best 12.55 to not only eclipse the great Steenkamp's mark, but also to break the national record of 12.76 which had been set by Taylon Bieldt just a month earlier.

"I feel amazing," she told #TheTopRunner from her European base in the Dutch city of Nijmegen. "Although I wasn't expecting to break the record, I'm excited because all my hard work, dedication and motivation to keep going is paying off," said the woman who runs in the colours of the Nedbank Running Club.

Fourie on her way to smashing the SA record by almost two tenths of a second in Switzerland on Sunday. Photo Credit: La Chaux-de-Fonds meet.

While Fourie may not have gone into the race in Switzerland aiming to become the fastest South African 100m hurdler, her coach Juan Strydom is not surprised that it happened as soon as it did. Pointing to her effortless style as a master technician who rarely clips knocks over the barriers, Strydom says the record is reward for the thousands of hours spent doing various drills.

"There are only three SA athletes that could manage to run sub 13. Marioné is the only one that did it 12 times. This comes from her ability to train clever but hard being focused and working towards reaching her season goals. I knew as the training times back in South Africa indicated sub 12.70 times. Training makes perfect and Marioné is the proof. We do a lot of technical drills and many hurdle passes per session."

Running 12.78 means that the 3-time SA Champion and African Championships bronze medalist has secured automatic qualification for the World Championships which take place in Budapest from August 19 to 27. Strydom says a semi-final exit at the 2022 World championships in the United States taught his young top runner a lot which will stand her in good stand when she lines up in Hungary.

"Last year was a great learning experience for Marione. She is only 21 yrs old and my philosophy is to introduce athletes at a later stage to high or elite level of competition to ensure a long sustainable career for as long as possible. Now that she is ranked in the top 10 it will put her in a different mindset. I believe she is capable of winning a World Championships and Olympic Games medal in the future. Our focus for this year is reaching the final and taking it from there."

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