JOHANNESBURG - With the deadline for the Commonwealth Games qualifications fast approaching, the Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) League meeting in Pretoria on Saturday will effectively serve as trials for the quadrennial showpiece.
Athletics SA (ASA) has given athletes a window between the beginning of August and the end of the year to qualify. Some of the country’s top athletes that are yet to qualify for the Games will be in action as it will provide one of the last few chances to compete.
World 200m bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana and Olympic women’s javelin silver medalist Sunette Viljoen will be in action on Saturday.
Jobodwana was among four athletes that made the preliminary team along with high-jump wunderkind Breyton Poole, hammer thrower Tshepang Makhete, and race walker Wayne Snyman in October.
Viljoen will be participating for the first time since she was forced to withdraw from the IAAF World Championships on the eve of the global showpiece.
Should South Africa’s javelin queen qualify, she will be looking for her fourth consecutive podium finish at the Commonwealth Games after she clinched back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2010 before finishing second in 2014.
Jobodwana had his sights set on a fast time at Saturday's meeting which could spell fireworks considering his current form.
Earlier this month the former half-lap national record-holder produced an impressive 100-200m double on the same track.
He clocked a season’s best 10.16-second 100m and a wind-aided 20.10 time in the 200m at a league meeting.
Former African long-jump record holder Khotso Mokoena will also line up for the triple jump.
Mokoena, a former world junior triple jump champion, returned from the previous Commonwealth Games in Glasgow with a gold medal in the hop-skip-and-jump while he also won silver in 2006.
The battle for selection among the country’s male 400m hurdlers is among the fiercest with defending Commonwealth champion Cornel Fredericks, Constant Pretorius, and LJ van Zyl making a "preparation squad".
Le Roux Hamman could throw the cat amongst the pigeons when he attempts to stake a claim for a place in the team.
At the beginning of September, ASA named a list of 13 athletes that automatically made the preliminary team for the quadrennial showpiece “as a result of their performances at the 2017 IAAF World Championships”.
World championship medallists Caster Semenya, Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai are among the athletes that only needed to show some sort of fitness ahead of the Games to earn selection.
ASA will submit a preliminary athletics team to the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee in the first week of January.
There are two more meeting scheduled for December 9 and 15 in Cape Town.