Namibian athletes Hitjivirue Kaanjuka and Frank Puriza both won their races in Turku, Finland on Wednesday evening at a packed Paavo Nurmi Stadium, named after the legendary Finnish runner who won nine gold and three silver medals at the Olympic Games from 1920 till 1928.
Kaanjuka went one better than he did on Sunday when he ended second in the 100m. This time the Namibian double sprinting champion won his heat earlier in the day in 10,56 and came back the evening to win the final, as he powered down the straight in a time of 10,44 followed by Eero Haapala in second place.
A highly motivated Kaanjuka didn't lose his focus despite a false start by Wendelin who was disqualified as he accelerated well from the 50m to win the race. Kaanjuka said he felt happy with his victory and the fact that his times were getting faster.
“I’m very glad to have won the race because our ladies have been winning more races recently, but this has just motivated me to work harder,” he said.
Namibian 400m runner Frank Puriza also did not disappoint as he showed great determination to win his race in 47,80 followed by Lauri Kohtamaki in second place.
Puriza had a good start running a well-timed bend to pass most of his opponents in the back straight. He accelerated again from the 120m and kept his composure and rhythm to win the race.
“It’s been a hard season for me so far. I have found it difficult to find my rhythm in races and for once I was in control again. This win really gives me confidence for my next races because now I can enjoy racing again,” he said.
Globine Mayova won her 100m heat earlier in the day in 12,00 but decided not to compete in the final after feeling that her hamstring was tight. Coach Letu Hamhola decided not to take the risk at this crucial stage of her season.
“We felt it was not worth taking the risk as an injury now will destroy the whole season. It’s nothing to worry about, it is just a precaution,” he said.
Unfortunately there were no 200m or 400m races for women at the meeting with the result that Namibia’s 200m and 400m All Africa Games bronze medallist Tjipekapora Herunga did not compete, although she did do a 500m time trail in preparation for her next races and the African Championships.
During the same meeting South Africa’s world silver medalist Caster Semenya won the women’s 600m in 1:25,56 followed by Tamsyn Manou of Australia in 1:26.28 and Tatjana Andrianova from Russia.
Semenya’s compatriot and former world silver medallist Khotso Mokoena won the men's long jump with a distance of 8,13m.