JOHANNESBURG – Most of the attention ahead of the inaugural Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix in Ruimsig today has been on the men’s 200m but there is no denying the star quality of the field.
It could be argued it is one of the most exciting half-lap races in South Africa in recent years with the likes of Anaso Jobodwana, Clarence Munyai, and Motswana sprinter Isaac Makwela going head-to-head.
The race will be without world 400m record-holder Wayde van Niekerk due to his recovery from injury, while Akani Simbine will only be in action at next week’s meeting in Pretoria.
But that hardly takes away from the high-quality field that has been assembled.
World 200m bronze medalist Jobodwana has spoken about the rivalry between him and Munyai and although the banter between the athletes is in good spirit, the competitiveness between them is real.
Munyai fired the first shot over the weekend when he raced to a new 100m personal best of 10.10 seconds at the Athletics Gauteng North meeting in Pretoria.
The junior national 200m record-holder withdraw from the final where Jobodwana ran a wind-aided 10.07.
“I ran a personal best in the semi-final and I thought I would allow Anaso to run in the final to gain confidence,” Munyai said.
Instead of immediately firing back, Jobodwana responded more diplomatic, demonstrating his maturity of facing some of the biggest stars of global track athletics.
“The first day I got back to Pretoria, I watched Clarence have a bit of a go about who is going to beat whom in the 100m. I thought I need to get back because if I am not ready I can’t trash talk as well,” Jobodwana said. It is good to be back, feeling healthy right now running good races and (toda) it’s my time to show Clarence a few things.”
Although Makwala is a regular on the local South African track and field scene, he will now have an opportunity to demonstrate his talent against a loaded field.
Makwala is one of the world’s top sprinters, proving his star quality last year where he posted the fastest 200-400m double in one day recording a sub-20 and sub-44 just 75 minutes apart at the Monaco Diamond League meeting.
SA world youth champion Retshidisitswe Mlenga will be looking to prove himself against the seniors, while American sprinters 2014 world junior champion Trentavis Friday and Justin Walker have also been added to the starting list.
The women’s 400m race is also shaping up with the Botswana contingent lead by 2011 world champion Amantle Montsho taking on South Africa’s Justine Palframan and Wenda Nel.
The men’s high jump will see phenomenal World Youth champion Breyton Poole, who boasts a best jump of 2.25m take on Mpho Links (2.23m) and South African champion Chris Moleya with a PB of 2.25m.
Tickets for the event can be purchased on www.webtickets.co.za or at the gates.