JOHANNESBURG – Track and field fans are in for a treat when the world’s fastest man Justin Gatlin will share a podium with South Africa’s best sprinters at the second leg of the inaugural Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix in Pretoria on Thursday.
A star-studded field of world and continental record-breaking athletes have been assembled for the meeting in the Capital City.
While much of the buzz has been around defending 100m world champion Gatlin participating in the 150m, there is more mouth-watering action to look forward.
Gatlin should not expect any favours from local favourite Anaso Jobodwana, who fired a warning shot at the first Athletix Grand Prix in Roodepoort last week.
The world 200m bronze medallist raced to his fastest half-lap time on home soil crossing the line in a time of 20.13 seconds which was his performance since 2016.
Jobodwana and Gatlin are no strangers and have locked horns before, most prominently at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing. The South African will be looking to exact revenge on Gatlin after the American beat him to the line in Beijing years ago where Jamaican world record-holder Usain Bolt finished first in 19.55.
Gatlin crossed the line second in a fast 19.74 with Jobodwana setting a new national record at the time of 19.87.
The fast Tuks track could see records tumble with three-time world champion Caster Semenya having a stab at Ilse Wicksell’s national 1000m best of 2:37.20 from 1983.Semenya will line up for the two-and-a-half-lap distance for the first time but her versatility in both the 800m and 1500m suggest the record should be within reach.
The men’s 100m will have a loaded field spearheaded by national record-holder Akani Simbine, who will have Henricho Bruintjies and Clarence Munyai chasing short-sprint bragging rights.
Former South African record-holder Bruintjies will be looking to get back into top form while Munyai is looking to join the exclusive sub-10.10 club.
Munyai posted a new personal best of 10.10 two weeks ago on the same track and in a strong field like this could even be flirting with the sub-10 barrier
Botswana’s Isaac Makwala, who won the 400m in Roodepoort, has his sights set on breaking the 31 second barrier which would make him only the second athlete behind former world one-lap record holder Michael Johnson to do it on South African soil.
Only three athletes - South African world record-holder Wayde van Niekerk, Johnson and Bolt - have dipped below the 31-second mark.
Tickets for the Pretoria showcase can be purchased on www.webtickets.co.za or at the gates.
Prices vary from R100 per person for main pavilion tickets to R50 for seats on the open stands or grass banks. Children under 16 years of age will be charged R50 each for the main pavilion.