JOHANNESBURG - Providing athletes one of the last opportunities to gauge where they are ahead of the national championships, the Sasol-NWU International Athletics meeting in Sasolburg has attracted a strong field which includes Olympic 800m gold medallist Caster Semenya.
The women’s 300m should be the main event when Semenya, 2011 world 400m champion Amantle Montsho of Botswana, and South Africa’s top 400m hurdler Wenda Nel take each other on over the odd distance.
The men’s 400m hurdles will see former world bronze medallist LJ van Zyl take on fellow Olympian Lindsay Hanekom.
It will be Hanekom’s first race over the barriers this season as he looks to set down a good marker ahead of next month’s SA Championships in Potchefstroom.
The 400m hurdles is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in years with a new crop looking to break Van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks’ stranglehold.
Fredericks and Rio Olympian Le Roux Hamman have set the early pace with the two training partners boasting the second and third fastest times respectively in the world this season.
Van Zyl and Hanekom will go up against Qatar’s Abderrahmane Samba, who holds the world lead with his time of 49.24s.
The meeting will also see the return of André Olivier, who opted out of last year’s Olympic Games due to a niggling injury.
The two-lap specialist will line up in the 1500m where he will go up against Folavio Sehole, Dumisani Hlaselo, and Elroy Gelant.
A quality men’s 400m field is spearheaded by Botswana’s Isaac Makwala and London Olympic 800m silver medallist Nijel Amos. Ranti Dikgale and Ashley Hlungwane, who both dipped below 46 seconds earlier this season lead South Africa’s charge along with Jon Seeliger and Thapelo Phora.
South African reigning women’s 100-200m champion Alyssa Conley will be the main attraction in the half-lap sprint, boasting the sixth fastest time in the world so far this season with 23.05s.
Former SA 100m record-holder Henricho Bruintjies will be looking to make some finer adjustments going into next month’s championships. “I am in amazing shape, I feel good and I am 100 percent with no niggles and I am ready to race,” Bruintjies said.