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03 May 2019 | Story Ruan Bruwer
Lynique Beneke
Lynique Beneke, long jump athlete of the University of the Free State and the national women’s champion seven times in a row, hopes to qualify for the World Championships.

The long jumper, Lynique Beneke, dreams of going to another Olympic Games and jumping over seven metres before she retires.

In between, there is still a World Championship later in the year for which she is trying to qualify. The qualifying standard is 6,72 m, not far from the 6,64 m she achieved at the national athletics championships at the end of April, which earned her a seventh consecutive national crown. At the time, it was the seventh best globally. She will have to qualify in Europe, as the South African season is over.

“With my faith as my biggest support, my mom and I both dreamed about me jumping exactly the same distance of 7,03 m! That is my big goal. I know I can do that,” Beneke (28) said. Her personal best is 6,81 m.

Special bond with coach


She is currently studying Education (BEd Senior and FET phase). “At this moment, I’m focusing on finishing my degree and enjoying my athletics. I want to give my athletics a fair chance, as I am only getting into prime shape now at this age. Once I’m done with athletics, I will focus on a career.”

According to Beneke, a 2016 Olympian and the Kovsie Senior Sportswoman of the Year for 2018, consistency is the name of her game. “I show up, even when I don’t feel like it. I push myself every day. I feel I have so much left in the tank, and that motivates me. All the glory to God.”

She is married to the hurdler, PC (also a Kovsie student). They moved from Gauteng to Bloemfontein at the end of 2017.

“My coach, Emmarie Fouché, was the big influence (coming here). I started working with her at the end of 2015. We work perfectly together; we are both women and have the same work ethic. She understands me. We are very close, and I think that is what makes the difference.”


News Archive

Research into veld fires in grassland can now help with scientifically-grounded evidence
2015-04-10

While cattle and game farmers are rejoicing in the recent rains which large areas of the country received in the past growing season, an expert from the University of the Free State’s Department of Animal, Wildlife, and Grassland Sciences, says that much of the highly inflammable material now available could lead to large-scale veld fires this coming winter.

Prof Hennie Snyman, professor and  researcher in the Department of Animal, Wildlife, and Grassland Sciences, warns that cattle and game farmers should be aware, in good time, of this problem which is about to rear its head. He proposes that farmers must burn firebreaks as a precaution.

At present, Prof Snyman focuses his research on the impact of fire and burning on the functioning of the grassland ecosystem, especially in the drier grassland regions.

He says the impact of fire on the functioning of ecosystems in the ‘sour’ grassland areas of Southern Africa (which includes Kwazulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape, and the Harrismith environs) is already well established, but less information  is available for ‘sweet’ semi-arid grassland areas. According to Prof Snyman, there is no reason to burn grassland in this semi-arid area. Grazing by animals can be effectively used because of the high quality material without having to burn it off. In the sourer pasturage, fire may well form part of the functioning of the grassland ecosystem in view of the fact that a quality problem might develop after which the grass must rejuvenate by letting it burn.

Prof Snyman, who has already been busy with the research for ten years, says quantified data on the impact of fire on the soil and plants were not available previously for the semi-arid grassland areas. Fires start frequently because of lightning, carelessness, freak accidents, or damaged power lines, and farmers must be recompensed for this damage.

The shortage of proper research on the impact of fires on soil and plants has led to burnt areas not being withdrawn from grazing for long enough. The lack of information has also led to farmers, who have lost grazing to fires, not being compensated fairly or even being over-compensated.

“When above-and below-ground plant production, together with efficient water usage, is taken into account, burnt grassland requires at least two full growing seasons to recover completely.”       

Prof Snyman says farmers frequently make the mistake of allowing animals to graze on burnt grassland as soon as it begins to sprout, causing considerable damage to the plants.

“Plant roots are more sensitive to fire than the above-ground plant material. This is the reason why seasonal above-ground production losses from fire in the first growing season after the fire can amount to half of the unburnt veld. The ecosystem must first recover completely in order to be productive and sustainable again for the long term. The faster burnt veld is grazed again, the longer the ecosystem takes to recover completely, lengthening the problem with fodder shortages further.  

Prof Snyman feels that fire as a management tool in semi-arid grassland is questionable if there is no specific purpose for it, as it can increase ecological and financial risk management in the short term.

Prof Snyman says more research is needed to quantify the impact of runaway fires on both grassland plant productivity and soil properties in terms of different seasonal climatic variations.

“The current information may already serve as valuable guidelines regarding claims arising from unforeseen fires, which often amount to thousands of rand, and are sometimes based on unscientific evidence.”

Prof Snyman’s research findings have been used successfully as guidelines for compensation aspects in several court cases.

 

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