Du Plessis qualifies in the 800 metres for the Paris Olympic Games

Posted on June 25, 2024

"Quest successful" was the Whatapp message Edmund du Plessis sent out late last night when they qualified in the 800 metres to compete at the Paris Olympic Games.

The Tuks medical student finished third in Madrid, running 1:44.49. The Olympic qualifying standard is 1:44.70. Belgium's Eliott Crestan won 1:44.28. Adrian Ben (Spain) was second in 1:44.41. For all three athletes, it was their fastest time this season.

Fast . . . faster . . . fastest would be a perfect way to summarise Du Plessis's heroics on the track this season. Since last year's end, he has improved his time by nearly three seconds. So, there can be no more arguing that he is one of the new stars of South African athletics. After last night, he is now ranked sixth fastest on South Africa's alltime list in the 800 metres.

Only Hezekiel Sepeng (1:42.69 - 1999), Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (1:42.86 - 2009), Johan Botha (1:43.91 - 1999), Andre Olivier (1:44.29 - 2012) and Werner Botha (1:44.41 - 2000) have been faster.

An elated Ilze Wicksell, Du Plessis's coach, ascribed her protege's success to hard work and a hunger to succeed.

"Hats off to Edmund. He had to make a difficult choice of whether he would compete at the African Champs in Ghana or if he should go to Europe. To represent South Africa is a big thing to him. Last year, competing at the World Student Games was the first time he was selected.

"In the end, what decided it for him was that in Europe, he would have more than one opportunity to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games. Tomorrow, he will be racing in Poland.

Training with Samuel Sepeng's squad, which included a few international athletes, really helped. During these sessions, Edmund regularly outsprinted everyone. That proved that he is good enough to take on the world's best and beat them."

Du Plessis has podiumed every time he has raced in Europe. He won in Germany, was second in Sweden, and in Madrid third.

Last night, also in Madrid, Wayde van Niekerk won the 200 metres in 20.29s. Akani Simbine was second in 20.38s. Zakithi Nene was third in the 400 metres (45.20s). 

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