JOHANNESBURG - A six-member South African team spearheaded by long-jump phenom Luvo Manyonga has been selected for the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, England from March 1 to 4.
National record-holders Dominque Scott-Efurd and Carina Horn are the only women in the team.
World champion Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai are South Africa’s biggest hopes of returning with silverware.
Manyonga’s continental record of 8.40m, set in Metz, France earlier this month, launched him into the top of the global indoor rankings.
World long-jump silver medallist Jarrion Lawson of the United States has emerged as a strong challenger after he recorded the second-best jump of the year with an 8.38m effort over the weekend.
Samaai will feature at his second world indoors and will be looking to get onto the podium after he finished fifth place, equalling the previous South African record of 8.18m held by Khotso Mokoena.
Athletics SA said Mokoena received a wildcard invitation courtesy of his 2017 European Indoor tour long jump title.
Mokoena won the 2008 title, while he also finished fifth at the 2006 edition in Moscow.
The 2018 World Indoor Championships holds immense promise for South Africa after a record-breaking February for some of the country’s star athletes.
Scott-Efurd lowered both her national 1500m and 3 000m indoor records two weeks ago with times of 4:07.25 and 8:41.18 respectively.
She is ranked 15th in the world in the 1500m and 12th in the 3000m which should give her confidence going into the championships.
Top female sprinter Horn also set a new South African 60m indoor record, posting a time of 7.09 seconds in Metz earlier this month.
She first knocked 0.05 off the record Wendy Hartmann clocked in 1999 in Maebashi, Japan before shaving a further 0.01s off the time in Metz.
Horn would be bullish about her chances of challenging for a medal with her time ranking her seventh in the world this year.
South African 110m hurdles record-holder Antonio Alkana will be going to his second world indoor championships and will be hoping to make the final for a shot at a medal in the 60m barrier race.
Perennial South African 100m bronze medallist Emile Erasmus has also been included in the team and will be in action in the 60m sprint event.
South Africa has won a total of eight medals at the world indoor champions including three gold courtesy of Johan Botha (800m), Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (800m) and Mokoena.
The late Mulaudzi was South Africa’s most prolific medallist at the indoor championships with his 2004 gold medal and two silvers.