SA’s best athletes ready to shine

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iol spt apr11 Sunette Viljoen REUTERS Sunette Viljoen. Photo by: Dominic Ebenbichler/ Reuters

An exhibition of the country’s best track and field athletes will be on full display today and tomorrow in the season-opener at the Tuks Stadium. Caster Semenya, Stephen Mokoka, Khotso Mokoena, Sunette Viljoen, Zarck Visser will all be taking part in the SA Senior Championships.

The championships will offer some light after a dark time for athletics in South Africa.

Athletics administration is caught-up in the midst of turmoil after the IAAF established an ad hoc committee in the aftermath of the suspension of ASA (Athletics South Africa) by governing body Sascoc (South Africa Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee) last year.

Organising committee boss and Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) acting president John Mathane said although the sport had some recent challenges, they are doing their utmost to resuscitate track and field.

“We have been working very hard to ensure athletes have something to look forward to. The last year or so has been very tough on the athletes in this country. We want to put on a show and ensure athletes forget about all the administrative issues and focus on themselves and their performance,” Mathane said.

Despite the logistical challenges and shortage of monetary resources, Mathane is confident the championships will be played out without any major glitches.

Mathane is deputising for AGN president Daan du Toit, who is the current chairperson of the ad hoc committee set-up to fix the athletics fiasco in the country.

Many of the athletes will be attempting to qualify for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland from July 23 to August 3.

Javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen, who is the African record holder, will be aiming to retain the national title she won in Stellenbosch last year with a 61.87m throw.

The man known as the hammer throw king in the country, Chris Harmse, will also be looking to continue his near two-decade-long dominance in the event.

Other defending champions from last year’s event, like Stephen Mokoka (10000m), Simon Magakwe (100m), Gladwin Mzazi (5000m) and Wayde van Niekerk (400m) will also be looking to retain their titles. - The Star


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