Akani Simbine will lead South Africa's challenge at today's Diamond League meet in Birmingham. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
Newly-crowned African 100 metres champion Akani Simbine and world long-jump gold medallist Luvo Manyonga will spearhead South Africa’s charge at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Birmingham, England, today.

Birmingham is the final meeting before the Diamond League finals in Zurich and Brussels in a week’s time.

Simbine is second in the race to the final, with American Ronnie Baker enjoying an unassailable lead at the top.

The South African 100m record-holder will have compatriot and African 200m champion Ncincilili Titi as company.

The duo will be looking to qualify for the afternoon’s final in Birmingham with the aim of sharing the podium.

Experiencing his best season in terms of results, Simbine has the Commonwealth and African titles to show for his efforts.

Simbine boasts the eighth fastest time this season with the 9.93 seconds he clocked at the London Diamond League meeting last month.

Titi, in turn, will be looking to continue his rise on the international track and field circuit after turning professional at the end of June.

Buoyed by his African triumph in the one-lap sprint, Titi will be hoping to make strides in the 100m and improve on his personal best of 10.17 he set earlier this year.

Fresh off his defeat to compatriot Ruswahl Samaai at the continental championships, Manyonga has his sights set on a return to the top of the podium. Manyonga will line up in the non-Diamond event which would effectively be a training run before the series final in Zurich next Saturday.

The South African long jump phenom sits comfortably at the top of the rankings and should feel bullish about his chances of clinging his second consecutive Diamond Trophy.

Zarck Visser will share the runway with Manyonga with the two South Africans boasting the top season’s-best jumps in the field.

Manyonga’s leap of 8.58m is the second best this year while Visser’s 8.40m is the eighth furthest effort in 2018.

Short-sprint hurdler Antonio Alkana could still secure a place in the Diamond League final but will have to make it onto the podium.

The two-time African 110m hurdles champion is currently just outside the top-eight in the Diamond rankings.

His title-winning performance at the African Championships should give him the necessary confidence boost going into the race.

South African women’s 400m hurdles ace Wenda Nel may have been battling with form this season but still managed to get onto the podium at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the African Championships.

Nel practically has her place secured for the Diamond League final but will be looking to cement her place in Birmingham.

Five athletes have already qualified and Nel will be looking to claim one of the remaining three spots for the Zurich final in a week’s time.

South African middle-distance queen Caster Semenya was among the entries for the 1500m but has been withdrawn from the programme.


Independent on Saturday

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter