Star hurdler sets sights on Rio

KEAGAN MITCHELL

Antonio Alkana, 26, has been in fine form throughout the 2016 athletics season and it paid off when he won the men’s 110m hurdles in an Olympic qualifying time of 13.43 seconds, at the Top Ten Inter-Club meeting, at the Green Point track, on Saturday.

The event is a team competition where each club can enter as many teams they want with only 11 athletes per team.

However, only the 10 best athletes’ points in that team counted towards the final total. Alkana, a member of the Bellville Athletics Club, led from the front and set the tone for the rest of his mates as the club won the competition.

Alkana said he was happy to have reached the qualifying time.

“The weather worked out well and my warm ups also worked according to plan. I focused on my race and told myself I am going to qualify for the Olympics because of the good warm up session I had,” he said.

The squad for the 2016 Rio Olympics, in Brazil, later this year, has not been announced yet but the lanky hurdler believes if he gets selected his not there to make up the numbers. “If I get selected, I will give my best and aim to be amongst the medals,” he said.

The defending South African 110m hurdles champion will be in action again this weekend when he defends his title at the South African senior track and field championships, in Stellenbosch.

The speedster said he plans to go out there and enjoy himself and to remain focussed.

“The 2016 season has kicked off better than previous years and I am looking forward to the rest of the season,” he said.

Alkana is no stranger to international competitions as he took part in the World Championships in Beijing, China, narrowly missing the semi-finals and won gold at the All African Games, in Congo Brazzaville, last year. He says one of his fondest memories in Beijing was witnessing the 400m final that his good mate Wayde van Niekerk won.

“Beijing was a good experience as it was my first major competition. While at the All African Games, it was a proud moment as I won the gold medal and set a new personal best of 13.32 in the 110m hurdles. This was also a new games record,” he said.