SA athletes to lay down early markers
LAYING down the foundation for what promises to be a record-breaking World Championships, South Africa will be looking for a safe passage to tomorrow’s finals.
Aiming for their best potential medal haul at the biennial showpiece, South Afirca would have to improve on the 2003 World Championship tally of two gold, a silver, and a bronze.
No less than seven athletes will open South Africa’s account today on the first day of the championships.
Distance ace Stephen Mokoka will be the first South African to challenge for a medal in the men’s 10 000m final in the last event of the evening.
Rio Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya will make her maiden voyage in the 1 500m at this level.
For her baptism of fire, Semenya has drawn defending champion Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and will be looking to finish in the top six of her heat to progress to the semi-final.
Targeting qualifying leaps of over 8.05 meters, the country’s trio of Luvo Manyonga, Ruswahl Samaai, and Zarck Visser should theoretically all feature in tomorrow’s long jump final.
Going into the championships with the world lead of 8.65m, Manyonga will spearhead the attack while Samaai is the second ranked long-jumper this year with his personal best of 8.49m.
Appearing at his third championships, discus thrower Victor Hogan will be looking to go better than the fifth place finish from Moscow 2013.
South African 100m recordholder Akani Simbine and rising star Thando Roto will back into the blocks with hopes of booking a place in the semi-final and final in the most anticipated event at the championship. With only three more 100m races left before Jamaican sprinting legend Usain Bolt’s final curtain, the two South Africans will be running for a starring role in what promises to be an epic final. Speaking ahead of today’s 100m heats, Rio Olympic finalist Simbine said while he has proven that he is a sub-10 second athlete, it was time to win medals at major championships. “I know if I can run sub-10 on a bad day then it works out for me, it’s just small things that need to be adjusted, and when those things are right, the big jump will come,” Simbine said.
“It’s gotten to a point where I need to make sure that I can put together those sub-10s when it matters.
“It’s not just about running a sub-10 … I need to be putting together the races and making sure that when I need to run a really good sub-10 I can put it down on the track.”
After finishing fifth in the 100m final at the Rio Olympic Games, Simbine will be looking to get his hands on some silverware.
Boasting a season’s best of 9.92, which is the third fastest time in the world this year, Simbine will count among the contenders.
“For me now it’s just to take all the momentum I’ve built throughout the season and let it come together now in the race and go through the rounds, get to the final and try have the perfect race that I’ve always pictured in my mind,” Simbine said.