SA ath­letes to lay down early mark­ers

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - OCK­ERT DE VIL­LIERS

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.

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