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Marione Fourie sets a new South African women's 100-meter hurdles record in Switzerland

Photo: Reg Caldecott

The 21-year-old Marione Fourie recently set a new South African record in Switzerland when she won the women’s 100-meter hurdles in a time of 12.55 seconds.

Her winning time is 0.21 seconds faster than Taylon Bieldt's record four weeks ago in Italy. The Tuks sports science student is now one of the world's ten fastest 100-meter hurdlers. Bieldt's time of 12.76 seconds is one of the 25 fastest this season.

Fourie set the record in the heats of the Resisprint International held at the Stade de La Charrière in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Just more than an hour later, she won the final with a time of 12.80 seconds. It was her third consecutive sub-13 race in Europe. The Tuks student has been victorious in 10 of the 11 hurdle races she has competed in this season. Fourie has also qualified for the upcoming World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, next month.

What is impressive about Fourie's performance is that she confidently predicted three weeks ago that she knew she was capable of dipping under 12.80. And that she was planning to do so on July 2. This morning, she admits that she surprised herself yesterday.

"I had hoped to run 12.70s. I was amazed when I crossed the line and saw my time. It is a moment I will remember for some time to come. I could not believe what I had achieved. I was certainly not thinking about setting a record. I was only hoping for a breakthrough race. I am even more motivated now that it happened because the hard work and long hours pay off," said the South African champion.

It is hard to remember when we last had such a duel in South African women's athletics. For that matter, even in our men's athletics generally, when an athlete sets a national record, it stands for a year or more.

The South African athletics statistician and podcaster Danie Cornelius is quite excited about Fourie and Bieldt's 100-meter hurdle heroics.

"Their duel is going to be good for our women's athletics. They are proving to our young athletes that there is no reason why you can't compete against the world's best. I won't be surprised if the South African 100-meter hurdles record improves again. Taylon (Bieldt) is a fighter. She would want the record back.

"Few countries have two 100-meter hurdles athletes who can clock times faster than 12.60s. As far as I know, it is only in the USA. 12.55 is a fantastic time. They will medal if Marione or Taylon can come close to running 12.55s at the World Champs. Wouldn't that be great? Especially considering that the 100-meter hurdles has long been a forgotten event in South African athletics."

Fourie's next race is on Friday, when she competes in France.

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