Olympic champion and world 400m record holder, Wayde van Niekerk, is among seven athletes added by Athletics SA (ASA) to the revised team list of the ‘preparation squad’ for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Photo: Tim Ireland/AP Photo

JOHANNESBURG Olympic champion and world 400m record holder, Wayde van Niekerk, is among seven athletes added by Athletics SA (ASA) to the revised team list of the ‘preparation squad’ for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Van Niekerk, who has not yet made his comeback from a lengthy injury hiatus, has now been included in the 4x400m relay squad in addition to the 400m where he is defending champion.

With ASA having recently announced a 56-member preparation squad, the updated group features a total of 63 individuals who are all hoping to ultimately make the final cut for the quadrennial games.

On the track, Ruan de Vries is an addition in the men's 110m hurdles, while sprinters Henricho Bruintjies and Emile Erasmus have both received the nod for the 4x100m relay squad.

Following the inclusion of Bruintjies and Erasmus, national sprints coach, Paul Gorries will have 10 men to work with ahead of Tokyo, forming a powerful SA squad in the sprint relay event.

On the road, marathon runners Tebogo Mathiba, Sibusiso Nzima, Melikhaya Frans and Collen Mulaudzi have been added for the 42.2km race, joining Stephen Mokoka, Elroy Gelant and Desmond Mokgobu, who were already in the initial preparation group. 

In the build-up to the Tokyo Games, ASA intends to provide athletes with multiple opportunities to achieve the qualifying criteria on home soil in the new year. These include a series of Grand Prix meetings set for March and April, along with the ASA Senior Track & Field and Combined Events Championships, to be held in Tshwane between from April 23 to 25 which will be of compulsory participation.

The final athletics lineup of the SA team will be announced by Sascoc (the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee) closer to the Games.

“We have revised the team after considerations made by the selection committee,” said Aleck Skhosana, president of ASA. “Now that we’ve announced the squad, ASA will be conducting the National Coaches Symposium on 29 November to 1 December. 

“The main theme of the symposium will be the final preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games. Several guest speakers of international standing will deliver presentations related to the main theme.

“We will then invite the Preparation Squad and their personal poaches on 25 January, to a final briefing session which will detail the final preparation for the Olympics. We will also share with them information gained from Coaches Symposium.” 

African News Agency (ANA)