Clarence Munyai makes his return to the track for the first time in a year. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
The Athletics South Africa (ASA) Grand Prix may have lost some of the lustre from last year but organisers have still managed to assemble a strong field for the opening leg in Bloemfontein today.

The Free State meeting will be headlined by some of the country’s top male and female sprinters in the 100m events.

The men’s 100m race will feature two of South Africa’s sub-10 second men in seven-time national champion Simon Magakwe and Thando Roto.

National 200m record-holder And Clarence Munyai makes his return to the track for the first time in a year.

Rumour has it that Munyai, who boasts a personal best of 10.10 seconds, has his sights on breaking Akani Simbine’s national record of 9.89 this season.

Simbine has opted to skip the individual race but will be anchoring a star-studded 4x100m relay team that includes Munyai, Magakwe and Emile Erasmus.

Should the team fire on all cylinders they should be able to give the national record a scare.

South Africa is planning on sending relay teams to next month’s IAAF World Relays in Yokohama, Japan for the first time.

The women’s 100m field is equally impressive, spearheaded by national record holder Carina Horn.

She will line up against rising stars Tebogo Mamatu and Tamzin Thomas, who have made rapid strides in the last two years.

The country’s top men’s 400m hurdlers - except for world youth and junior champion Sokwakhana Zazini - will also be racing in Bloemfontein today.

The line-up includes former Commonwealth Games champion Cornel Fredericks and national champions Le Roux Hamman and Lindsey Hanekom.

The men’s shot put could produce one of the highlights of the meeting with Orazio Cremona going up against Young Turks Jason van Rooyen and World Junior gold medallist Kyle Blignaut.

Zarck Visser will be the favourite in the men’s long jump after he equalled his personal best of 8.41m at the Central Gauteng Championships in Germiston last month.

The inaugural Grand Prix series breathed new life into the local South African track and field scene by attracting some of the country’s best athletes.

Last year organisers managed to lure defending world 100m champion Justin Gatlin of the United States to the Pretoria leg of the series.

But the original sponsors, Liquid Telecom, pulled out prematurely leaving the series in limbo.

The next leg of the Grand Prix series is in Potchefstroom on Thursday next week.


Saturday Star

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