CityPress - - Sport - DANIEL MOTHOWAGAE dmoth­owa­gae@city­ 2013: Donetsk, Ukraine Rank­ing: Medals: 2011: Lille, France Rank­ing: Medals: 2009: Bres­sanone, Italy Rank­ing: Medals:

South Africa’s se­nior track and field ath­letes have been bask­ing in glory for the past few days – but now the spotlight turns to the coun­try’s equally promis­ing young brigade, who be­gin their quest for medals in the up­com­ing In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions (IAAF) World Youth Cham­pi­onships in Cali, Colom­bia.

The global youth com­pe­ti­tion runs in Cali from Wed­nes­day un­til Sun­day. Team SA will com­pete at the four-day global track and field com­pe­ti­tion af­ter con­quer­ing the con­ti­nent three months ago.

Spear­headed by 17-year-old sprinter Gift Leotlela, the na­tional youth team bagged 17 gold medals at the 15 out of 32 na­tions on the medal ta­ble 2 – gold in the women’s 400m hur­dles; bronze in the women’s high jump African Youth Cham­pi­onships in Mau­ri­tius in April.

Leotlela, from the High Per­for­mance Cen­tre in Pre­to­ria, is cur­rently ranked num­ber two in the world. He has had a blin­der of a sea­son since break­ing the SA youth 200m record at the Gaut­eng North Cham­pi­onships in March. His time of 20.63 was 0.16 faster than the mark set by Leigh Julius in 6 out of 30 5 – gold in men’s 110m hur­dles and men’s javelin; sil­ver in men’s triple jump and men’s javelin; bronze in men’s dis­cus 2002. He fol­lowed that up with gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m re­lay at the con­ti­nen­tal cham­pi­onships.

Leotlela and Kyle Ap­pel (17) – a 100m sil­ver medal­list in Mau­ri­tius – as well as Clarence Mun­yai, have clocked South Africa’s seven fastest 200m times in the world this year, and are all ranked in­side the 24 out of 39 2 – sil­ver in men’s long jump; bronze in men’s shot put cur­rent IAAF youth top 10 list.

How­ever, Ab­dul Hakim Sani Brown of Ja­pan leads the pack with the fastest youth time, with 10.30 in the 100m and 20.56 in the 200m.

Leotlela’s coach, Hen­nie Kriel, said his charge would only con­test the 200m in Cali, as Team SA ar­rive only two days be­fore the 100m heats.

“He is in good shape and all I have re­quested from him is to make the fi­nal, and any­thing can hap­pen,” said Kriel.

Leotlela started the year as the fastest in the 100m in the world when he took the na­tional short dash ti­tle in 10.41 at the SA Ju­nior and Youth Cham­pi­onships in Bloem­fontein in April.

Ath­let­ics SA pres­i­dent Aleck Skhosana will ac­com­pany the team to Cali.

“The world cham­pi­onships are dif­fer­ent to the con­ti­nen­tal events. But we have as­sem­bled a team that is ca­pa­ble of win­ning medals in the sprints, the jumps and the throws,” said Skhosana.

Other medal hope­fuls in Colom­bia are Pa­trick Du­ven­hage (dis­cus), Burger Lam­brechts (shot put) and Tay­lon Bieldt (100m hur­dles).

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