JOHANNESBURG - The inaugural Athletix Grand Prix Series that is set to reinvigorate local track and field, will kick off in Roodepoort on Thursday evening.
Some of the country’s top athletes, as well as a few international stars, have been confirmed for the three-leg series. Defending 100m world champion Justin Gatlin of the US is the marquee international athlete.
Gatlin will be racing South African 2015 world 200m bronze medallist Anaso Jonodwana in the 150m at the second leg in Pretoria on March 8.
Ticket sales opened earlier this month and can be purchased at www.webtickets.co.za or at the gates.
Prices vary from R100 per person for main pavilion tickets, to R50 for seats on the open stands or grass banks. Children under 16 years of age will be charged R50 each for the main pavilion. The series presents athletes with the ideal opportunity to put in those final touches ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia in April.
“The meetings will be tight programmes, lasting for 90 minutes and is intended to attract top athletes from around the world to test their best performances in South Africa,” said Athletics South Africa president Aleck Skhosana. “Spectators can expect explosive action, back-to-back entertainment and track and field performances of the highest standard.”
The men’s 200m race in Roodepoort promises to be the highlight with Jobodwana lining up against South African junior record-holder Clarence Munyai. Jobodwana seems to be finding his form after posting his fastest - albeit wind-aided - 100m time at the weekend’s Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) Championships on Saturday.
He crossed the line in a time of 10.07 seconds with a 3.3 wind behind beating former South African 100m record-holder Henricho Bruintjies, who clocked 10.15 with junior sprinter Thembo Monareng taking third place in 10.18.
Jobodwana will have his work cut out in Thursday’s half-lap sprint where he will go up against an in-form Munyai.
Munyai blasted to a new personal best 100m time in the semi-final at the AGN championships with a time of 10.10. His time would have been a junior national record had he raced it a week before as he turned 20 only four days earlier.
“Clarence is looking nice, and we have a bit of a rivalry going on where we both want to win,” Jobodwana said. “I don’t want to focus on times right now because it might throw me off my game.”
The Athletix Grand Prix Series will take place in Roodepoort, Pretoria (March 8) and Paarl (March 22) and will boast prize incentives of R1 365 000.