Team SA set for medals

CityPress - - Sport - DANIEL MOTHOWAGAE dmoth­owa­gae@city­

South Africa can count on its ath­let­ics team for medals at the World Univer­sity Games, which of­fi­cially opened in Gwangju, South Korea, on Fri­day. Team SA got off to a bad start with both the men’s and women’s football teams los­ing their open­ing matches to France and USA, re­spec­tively, on Thurs­day.

The ath­let­ics pro­gramme starts on Wed­nes­day and runs un­til July 12.

And with Akani Sim­bine cur­rently run­ning the race of his life, there is a glim­mer of hope as it seems noth­ing will stop the track and field team from em­u­lat­ing the gold rush feat from the pre­vi­ous global stu­dent games.

The 21-year-old Sim­bine this week clocked a per­sonal best of 9.99 in the 100m to be­come just the sec­ond South African sprinter, af­ter Si­mon Ma­gakwe, to breach the 10-sec­ond bar­rier.

Sim­bine led a South African 1-2 fin­ish with his univer­sity team mate Hen­ri­cho Bru­in­tjies at the Euro­pean Per­mit meet­ing in Ve­lenje, Slove­nia, in the mid­dle of the week.

The Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria (Tuks) pair has run the fastest times over the 100m this year.

They have been in­cluded in a Team SA ath­let­ics squad that also boasts lead­ing fe­male sprint­ers Justine Pal­fra­man (Univer­sity of Stel­len­bosch) and An­neri Eber­sohn of Tuks.

Team leader Danie Cor­nelius said: “Akani is the man to beat in the 100m and 200m, and I will not be sur­prised if he smashes the SA [100m] record.”

“Hen­ri­cho, un­for­tu­nately, will only run re­lay as he was in­jured and only qual­i­fied out­side the qual­i­fi­ca­tion win­dow pe­riod [for in­di­vid­ual events],” added Cor­nelius, who is the ath­let­ics man­ager at Tuks.

Also in the team is 2013 world stu­dent half-marathon cham­pion Glad­win Mzazi from the Tsh­wane Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy.

The ath­let­ics team fin­ished sec­ond be­hind hosts Rus­sia at the pre­vi­ous Univer­sity Games, ac­count­ing for 11 of the 14 medals that Team SA brought home from Kazan.

This was the same cham­pi­onship where Anaso Jo­bod­wana be­came the first man to win the short sprint dou­ble at the Games since Ital­ian Pi­etro Men­nea won 100m and 200m gold at the 1975 edi­tion in Rome.

This year, South Africa will be rep­re­sented by 114 ath­letes in seven of the 21 sports codes in the pro­gramme in South Korea.

The Gwangju City Games end on July 14.

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