Wayde van Niekerk was one of 13 athletes who automatically qualified for the South African Commonwealth Games team based on their performances at the World Championships. Photo: Reuters/John Sibley

JOHANNESBURG - Athletics SA (ASA) on Monday named a 63-member preparation squad for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

The team consists of athletes who have met a relaxed qualifying criteria compared to the recent IAAF World Championships in London.

ASA named a list of 13 athletes who automatically made the preliminary team for the quadrennial showpiece “as a result of their performances at the 2017 IAAF World Championships”, with the 13 only needing to prove their competition fitness during the first quarter of 2018.

This is half the number of athletes who lined up at last month's World Championships, from where South Africa returned from with its best ever medal haul winning three gold, a silver, and two bronze.

World 400m record-holder Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya were the standout performers winning double medals at the championships, with long jumper Luvo Manyonga also winning gold.

Van Niekerk won gold in the 400m and silver in the 200m while Semenya won her third 800m world title, adding the 1500m bronze to her collection.

ASA stressed that athletes should not focus solely on the criteria as the team would be selected based on their rankings among Commonwealth nations.

“Athletes must be encouraged to improve their Commonwealth rankings, and not focus on the values of the qualifying standards alone, as the position of the athlete on the Commonwealth rankings will be the primary motivation for an athlete to be included in the final team to the 2018 Games,” an ASA circular read.

Although the circular did not specify where the athletes needed to be ranked, Sascoc has suggested they would have to be among the top-10 in the Commonwealth.

ASA also announced 10 high-profile meetings starting in October and finishing in the middle of December.

The athletics federation will present the preliminary team to Sascoc in the first week of January 2018.

The Star

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