Cape Town — While Caster Semenya and Akani Simbine will be the headline acts, the return of Carina Horn to the big stage will also be one to watch at the Athletics South Africa Grand Prix 3 in Potchefstroom on Wednesday night.
Semenya will line up in the 2 000m as part of her build-up to the national championships later this month, where she will contest the 5 000m and possibly the 10 000m as well.
The two-time Olympic 800m champion will hope to qualify for the world championships in the 5 000m, but is keeping the door open on the longer distance as well.
Semenya ran a new 3 000m personal best of eight minutes, 54.97 seconds (8:54.97) at the second ASA event in Cape Town a few weeks ago, which indicates that she is on course to breach the 15:10.00 qualifying mark.
Sprinter Simbine is making his first appearance of the year in the rather unfamiliar 200m at the NWU Puk McArthur Stadium tonight, having concentrated mainly on the 100m over the last few years.
Some ‘endurance’ work is never a bad idea early in the season, though, and Simbine will be pushed all the way by Luxolo Adams and eSwatini’s experienced Olympian Sibusiso Matsenjwa.
But the most anticipated event might just be the women’s 100m, where SA record-holder Horn (10.98 seconds) makes her comeback to big-time athletics following a two-year absence from the track.
The 33-year-old missed out on the 2019 world championships and last year’s Tokyo Olympics due to a positive drug test in September 2019, where prohibited substances Ibutamoren (which is a growth hormone) and LGD-4033 (a testosterone replacement product) were found.
Horn felt that her supplements were contaminated, and got a scientist to prove her case. The Athletics Integrity Unit accepted the scientist’s findings, and handed down a two-year suspension instead of the usual four, which allowed her to compete from mid-September last year.
But she opted to build herself up slowly to get back to peak fitness, and judging by her posts on Instagram, she is in top shape again and will hope to achieve the world championships qualifying mark of 11.15 seconds this season.
“Start racing this week! Opening my season and comeback. What a journey.
Greatful. I will run my heart out. Ready. Set. Go!” Horn wrote this week.
In a recent post, Horn said: “It’s a dangerous place to be when you have nothing to lose. Perseverance, sufferings. I endured, but out of them all I got created, delivered. First time in over 2 years doing blocks and putting on spikes. Hitting PBs in the gym and can’t wait to hit the track!”
The men’s 100m race will be keenly contested as well, with Clarence Munyai the hot favourite in the absence of Simbine. Munyai produced a superb 10.04 – a world champs qualifying time – in Pretoria last month, which places him sixth on the current world list for 2022.
Former SA record-holder Henricho Bruintjies would want to make an impression after missing out on the Olympics, while Chederick van Wyk and Emile Erasmus will also aim for podium finishes.
In the field, the men’s shot put is sure to produce some more fireworks, with Olympians Kyle Blignaut and Jason van Rooyen will go head-to-head once more. Van Rooyen won their last battle on March 16 in Bloemfontein, claiming victory with a 20.64-metre effort, with Blignaut second with 20.43m.