PRETORIA – Three of the country’s four medallists at last year’s IAAF World Championships will be on show this week, as they battle for national honours at the SA Athletics Championships at Tuks Athletics Stadium in Tshwane, starting on Thursday.
World champion Luvo Manyonga and world championships bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai will lock horns in the long jump contest.
Manyonga won a titanic duel last year, launching an African record of 8.65m, with Samaai setting a personal best of 8.49m in second place.
At the recent IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Manyonga produced a continental indoor record of 8.44m to bag silver, while Samaai landed at 8.24m at the Athletix Grand Prix Meeting in Pretoria last week, making it clear that both athletes will again be gunning for gold.
Among the sprinters, national record holder Akani Simbine turns out in defence of his 100m title.
He will have a challenge on his hands against a line-up which features Anaso Jobodwana and rising star Clarence Munyai, with all three in-form athletes targeting a 100m/200m double.
And while 400m men’s world champion Wayde van Niekerk is missing from the entry lists due to injury, global 800m women’s champion Caster Semenya will be one of the main attractions in the star-studded line-up.
Semenya, who set a national record of 2:35.43 over the 1 000m distance at Tshwane last week, will face gutsy 800m runner Gena Lofstrand in the two-lap event, and she will also meet US-based athlete Dominique Scott-Efurd in the 1 500m.
Among the rising stars who will be in action are high jump sensation Breyton Poole, sprinter Retshidisitswe Mlenga, and 400m hurdles prospects Sokwakhana Zazini and Zeney van der Walt, who all won IAAF World Youth titles in Nairobi, Kenya last year.
The event will open at 9.30am on Thursday, with the 110m hurdles men heats, and the first finals will be contested on the field later in the morning session.
The showpiece event will come to a close with the 4x400m relay finals, scheduled to be held shortly before 8pm on Saturday.
African News Agency (ANA)