Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 160 August 2023 | Page 51

Corien Botha did it in the late 1990s , followed by Rikenette nearly 20 years later , and most recently by Marioné , who ran her first sub-13 last year . With Marioné also posting sub-13s this season , it is the first time in SA athletics history that the country has two sub-13 hurdlers at the same time .
However , Taylon had more in the proverbial tank , and three weeks after her 12.91 , she took her best down to 12.82 at a meet in Sasolburg , and just a week after that , she went still better with her SA Record run of 12.76 in Italy . Since then , she has posted another three sub-13 times in various European countries , including a 12.81 on 14 July in Italy .
Emerging Talent
Taylon first caught the eye at the African Youth Games in 2014 in Botswana , where she won the 400m hurdles title . She went on to represent SA at the Youth Olympics in China later that same year , competing the 100m hurdles . In 2015 , she earned a silver medal as part of the SA 4x400m team at the World Under-18 Champs in Columbia , and in 2016 she finished seventh in the 100m hurdles final at the World Under-20 Champs in Poland . That same year she finished fourth in the 100m hurdles at the African Champs in Durban .
In 2017 , Taylon won the 100m hurdles title at the African Under-20 Champs in Algeria , then claimed the SA senior title in 2018 , and retained it in 2019 . At the All Africa Games later in 2019 , in Morocco , she helped the SA 4x100m team earn a silver medal and finished third to claim the bronze medal in the 100m hurdles .
The COVID pandemic put a temporary halt on her progress , but post-pandemic Taylon was part of the SA contingent at the 2022 African Champs in Mauritius , where she earned a team gold medal in the 4x400m relay , took the silver medal in the 400m hurdles , and was part of the 4x400m team that finished fourth overall . She was also part of the SA 4x400m team that once again finished fourth at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in the UK .
Change of Focus
What is remarkable about recent performances is that her SA Record run was only the fourth time she competed in the 100m-hurdles this season . This is because initially , she aimed to qualify for the World Champs in Budapest , Hungary in August in the 400m hurdles , and had thus focused her attention on the longer event . She needed a 54.90 to qualify for Budapest , and came agonisingly close with a personal best 54.91 in Finland on 13 June . Thankfully , her 12.76 for the shorter event booked her place on the plane to the World Champs , as the qualifying standard is 12.78 .
Taylon ’ s ability to compete in both hurdles events sets her apart from any of her current competitors and makes her one of a select small group in the history of SA athletics , where athletes usually only excel in either the 100m hurdles or the 400m hurdles . She is only the third to excel in both , after Ina van Rensburg posted bests of 13.09 and 55.81 in the 1980s , and Surita Febbraio-Loots ran 13.10 and 54.05 in the early 2000s .
Furthermore , according to athletics statistician Danie Cornelius , Taylon is one of only a few athletes to have set national records in three different age groups . “ In 2015 , at the World Youth Championships ( under-18 ), Taylon won silver running 13.18 . A year later , at the World Junior Champs ( under-20 ), her time was 13.35 , and with both performances , she set national records . Now she has set a new senior record ,” he writes .
Cornelius predicts that Taylon has what it takes to become one of the greats of South African athletics . “ I have no doubt that she can run faster . It should be remembered that she started the season training for the 400m hurdles . If she decides to focus only on the 100m hurdles , she can be 12.50s or faster .” He adds that it has been a long time since there has been a real rivalry in South African women ’ s athletics , and when asked how he thinks Taylon and Marioné ’ s rivalry will play out , he says , “ Taylon is the faster of the two , but Marioné ’ s hurdling technique is better , so it is going to be exciting .”

SA ’ s All-time Fastest 100m Hurdlers

Marioné Fourie
La Chaux-de-Fonds , Switzerland
2 Jul 2023
Taylon Bieldt
Lucca , Italy
4 Jun 2023
Rikenette Steenkamp
La Chaux-de-Fonds , Switzerland
1 Jul 2018
Corien Botha
Riga , Latvia
30 Jun 1998
Karen van der Veen
Pretoria , SA
1 Apr 1991
Annemarie Le Roux
Johannesburg , SA
23 Apr 1988
Ina van Rensburg
Johannesburg , SA
18 Apr 1986
Surita Febbraio-Loots
Durban , SA
3 Mar 2001
Antoinette van der Merwe
Raleigh , USA
13 May 2023
Riana Raath
Germiston , SA
29 Mar 1983

Fourie Flies to SA Record

With the proverbial paint still drying on Taylon Bieldt ’ s new SA Record in the 100m hurdles , news broke of another record-breaking run by a South African hurdler , and this time it was 21-year-old SA Champion Marione Fourie restaking her claim to be the best 100m hurdler in SA . On 2 July , less than a month after Taylon ’ s record run , Marioné lined up in a meet in Switzerland and blitzed a scintillating time of 12.55 , taking a further 0.21 seconds off the national mark and putting Marioné ( at the time of writing ) in the top 10 fastest in the world this year .
Marioné set the record in the heats of the Resisprint International Meeting , and just more than an hour later , she won the final in 12.80 , giving her a third consecutive sub-13 race in Europe . She had also posted a 12.86 personal best at a meet in the Netherlands several weeks earlier , on 4 June , the same day that Taylon had run her 12.76 in Italy .
Remarkably , Marioné confidently predicted three weeks earlier that she now knew she is capable of dipping under 12.80 … and that she was planning to do so on 2 July . Nevertheless ,