The world may be focused on the looming duels between Jamaica and the US, but SA may be on the brink of celebrating its first IAAF World Championships sprint medallist, writes
South Africa’s chance for more medals looks far more realistic than when Johan Cronje brought home a 1 500m bronze from the IAAF World Championships in Russia two years ago.
This has been the best year by far for South African athletics, and anything can still happen at the International Association of Athletics Federations event.
Reaching a sub-9.9 time in the 100m might still be a work in progress for the likes of Anaso Jobodwana, Akani Simbine and Henricho Bruintjies, but they are sure bets to go beyond the first round at the global showpiece that starts in Beijing, China, on Saturday.
Standing in the trio’s way are Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell, along with America’s Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay, who are among the supermen set to line up in the 100m and 200m dash. Bolt is the defending champion of the two events.
However, in the form of 400m sensation Wayde van Niekerk, South Africa may be on the brink of ushering in its first world championships sprint medallist.
The 23-year-old already paced himself with the man to beat in Beijing – Kirani James, the Grenada phenomenon who has been a dominant force in the one-lap event over the past few years.
This new generation of sprinters is also in good shape to contend for a medal in the popular 4x100m relay.