JOHANNESBURG – South African sprinters have been relatively quiet so far this year compared to the thunderous performances from the last few seasons.
The late hosting of the IAAF World Championships in Doha has something to do with this with the country’s top athletes saving themselves for a long season which will culminate with the global showpiece September-October.
ASA requires athletes to participate at the championships to be eligible for selection for the global event later this year.
Based on this, world 400m record holder Wayde van Niekerk should make his return in search of his fifth one-lap national title.
But Van Niekerk may delay his return and is expected to make his official return only during the international season.
Rainy days are part of nature.— Wayde van Niekerk (@WaydeDreamer) April 5, 2019
So is sunny days.
It's God given🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/fkBASSfO8K
South African 100m record-holder Akani Simbine has confirmed that he would be lining up in Germiston where he will be competing in the 200m instead of the short sprint.
While Simbine will be targeting his maiden half-lap national gold medal to his two South African 100m titles he does not expect to be at his best at the championships.
“The SAs for me is not really a place where I want to be sharp, I don’t want to be sharp right now and then feel like my legs are falling off going into world champs,” Simbine said. “I just want to get to SAs and be able to compete and be able to put my best foot out on the track.”
Simbine opened his season at last week’s ASA Grand Prix in Potchefstroom where he posted a time of 20.39 seconds.
The half-lap sprint could be one of the top events at the three-day championships should national record holder Clarence Munyai back into the blocks.
Munyai burned up the track at last year’s event posting a new national record of 19.69 seconds in the semi-finals before he withdrew from the final due to a niggling injury. The Rio Olympian has not raced since the 200m final at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April 2018 where he finished in a creditable fourth place.
Defending champion Luxolo Adams will be looking to prove his victory last year was not a mere flash in the pan.
Rising youngster Sinesipho Dambile, who clocked a new SA youth 200m record of 20.43, could also be among the challengers over the weekend.
Chederick van Wyk and Theodore Young have emerged as future prospects and will also be in the mix over the weekend.
In the men’s 100m former national record holder Simon Magakwe is the form guy and will be looking to win a record eighth South African title in the blue riband event.@ockertde