JOHANNESBURG – South Africa has announced a 40-member squad consisting of 22 men and 18 women for the inaugural Athletics World Cup which is set for London on July 14 and 15.
The team will be spearheaded by Olympic champion Caster Semenya and world long-jump champion Luvo Manyonga among others.
The meeting will pit eight of the world’s top athletics nations including the United States, Great Britain & Northern Ireland, Poland, China, Germany, France, and Jamaica against each other.
The competition format will feature all field and track events up to and including the 1500m with each nation competing for the $2 million prize pot over two evening sessions of athletics.
Limited to one man and one woman per event in an all-straight final format there will also be 4x100m and 4x400m relays.
Athletics SA (ASA) chief executive Richard Stander said yesterday the team would be finalised once they have confirmed the availability of each athlete. “The adjusted team will probably be available over the next few days,” Stander said.
Some of the country’s top performers such as Manyonga, Semenya and Akani Simbine may not be available for the World Cup as it clashes with the Rabat Diamond League meeting.
Valuable points will be up for grabs for Semenya and Simbine in Rabat scheduled for July 13 which will count towards the Diamond Trophy race.
Stander said ASA athletes’ coordinator was speaking to the athletes to gauge their availability for the team event next month.
“We are speaking to individual athletes like Caster, Luvo, and Akani,” Stander said. “Rabat is the only Diamond League meeting in Africa and it is an important event for us on the continent where we want the best athletes to compete there.”
It is otherwise possibly the strongest team ASA could have selected with national 100m and 100m hurdles record-holders Carina Horn and Rikenette Steenkamp included in the team.
Stander said the World Cup would also play a significant role in South Africa’s plan to qualify relay teams for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“It is important to us that the relay teams race at the World Cup and that all four teams race at the African Championships,” Stander said. “We need them to race twice and get themselves into a position on the world rankings to qualify for next year’s world championships and earn a place in the top-16 nations for the Olympics.”
South Africa returned from last year’s London World Championships with its best-ever collection of podium finishes at the biennial showpiece to finish third on the medals tables with three gold, silver, and two bronze.
Meanwhile, nine South African athletes will be in action at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Ostrava in the Czech Republic tonight.
Simbine will be looking to reclaim some of his form in the men’s 100m against Americans world champion Justin Gatlin and Mike Rodgers.
SA 200m record-holder Clarence Munyai and former world bronze-medalist Anaso Jobodwana will compete against global champion Ramil Guliyev of Turkey in the half-lap sprint.
But it is the battle in the sandpit that should provide for the most intrigue at the meeting where world long-jump champion Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai takes on young Cuban pretender Juan Miguel Echevarria.
Echevarria leapt to a mammoth albeit marginally wind-aided jump of 8.83 metres at the Stockholm Diamond League meeting over the weekend bringing Manyonga’s unbeaten reign of close to two years to an end.
The SA World Cup team is:
100m: Akani Simbine, Carina Horn
200m: Clarence Munyai, Justine Palframan
400m: Derrick Mokaleng, Justine Palframan
800m: Rynardt van Rensburg, Caster Semenya
1500m: Jerry Motsau, Caster Semenya
110m hurdles: Antonio Alkana
100m hurdles: Rikenette Steenkamp
400m hurdles: Lindsay Hanekom, Wenda Nel
High Jump: Chris Moleya, Julia du Plessis
Pole Vault: Niel Giliomee, Christy Nell
Long Jump: Luvo Manyonga, Lynique Beneke
Triple Jump: Khotso Mokoena, Patience Ntshingila
Shot Put: Ischke Senekal
Discus Throw: Victor Hogan, Ischke Senekal
Hammer Throw: Tshepang Makhete, Chene Pretorius
Javelin Throw: Phil-Mar van Rensburg, Sunette Viljoen
Men: Akani Simbine, Roscoe Engel, Simon Magakwe, Henricho Bruintjies, Clarence Munyai.
Women: Carina Horn, Tebogo Mamatu, Lente Pieterse, Cassidy Williamson, Tamsin Thomas.
Men: Derrick Mokaleng, Thapelo Phora, Pieter Conradie, Zakhiti Nene, Lindsey Hanekom.
Women: Justine Palframan, Caster Semenya, Wenda Nel, Ariane Nel, Rorisang Ramonye.