JOHANNESBURG - Local fans will have an opportunity to watch some of the country’s top track and field athletes battle it out on home soil following the announcement of the three-meet Athletix Grand Prix in March 2018.
The series will provide local athletes crucial racing experience ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in April.
Some of the country's top sprinters such as Olympic 100m finalist Akani Simbine, 2015 world 200m bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana and former national 100m record-holder Henricho Bruintjies have been confirmed for the series.
The three meetings will take place Johannesburg on March 1, Pretoria on March 8 with the final event scheduled for Paarl on March 22 and will carry a total prize purse of R1 365000.
Each meeting will offer prize money of R455 000 which equates to approximately R45 000 per discipline.
Athletics SA (ASA) hope to attract more athletes from around the world to line up against South Africa’s best.
“We are excited to announce the series which we believe restores our domestic track and field season right back on top where it was about a decade ago,” said ASA president Aleck Skhosana. “This is the ideal opportunity for our athletes to put in those final touches before heading off to Australia and to other international destinations to represent this country in the best possible shape.”
Michael Meyer of Stillwater Sports who will be doing the marketing and commercial element of the meetings said they were looking to help ASA in promoting the sport.
“We are looking forward to working with ASA to unlock the value of athletics not only for spectators but also for sponsors and athletes too.”
He added: “The Series will assist to create a wider platform for great performances in South Africa.There are many up and coming athletes who want to break through, so the opportunities in the three different cities will not only provide our world stars but the next generation an opportunity to compete at the highest level.
The first meeting will clash with the IAAF World Indoors scheduled for March 2 to 4 while the SA Senior Championships (schedule for March 15 to 17) are sandwiched between the second and third meetings.
According to Meyer, they will make more announcements in terms of attracting international athletes in the build-up to the first meeting.
Jobodwana is excited to line up against fellow star athletes like Bruintjies and Simbine: "I’ve always said that when you line up against the best, it brings out your best performances and the Grand Prix gives me that chance.”