SA’s sprint­ers eye fast times on world stage

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - OCKERT DE VIL­LIERS

KICK­ING off a chock-a-block month of track and field, world 400m record-holder Wayde van Niek­erk and short-sprint sen­sa­tion Akani Sim­bine will line up at the Bos­ton Games on Sun­day.

The fleet-footed duo will be look­ing to set the pace for a host of South Africans that will line up in Prague at the Josef Od­ložil Me­mo­rial on Mon­day.

The Bos­ton meet­ing will be Van Niek­erk’s first in­ter­na­tional race of the sea­son as he looks to con­vert his early do­mes­tic form onto the global stage when he lines up in the half-lap sprint.

The Olympic cham­pion has been knocked off his perch world leader in the 200m this sea­son af­ter Chris­tian Cole­man clocked 19.85 sec­onds last week­end.

Van Niek­erk raced to a new 200m per­sonal best of 19.90 sec­onds to claim the national ti­tle in Potchef­stroom re­cently, and has made changes to his train­ing pro­gram for the halflap event.

Van Niek­erk will be look­ing to build con­fi­dence ahead of the IAAF World Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don in Au­gust where he will be at­tempt­ing the 200-400m dou­ble.

On Sun­day, he will get into the blocks against ris­ing Ba­hamian star Steven Gardiner, who clocked the sec­ond fastest one-lap time so far, this sea­son with a national record of 44.26 sec­onds.

“I’ve got this de­sire to do good in all three events (in­clud­ing the 4 x 400m re­lay) , and I will have to put in that hard work – the only way to deal with the chal­lenge is to face it head on,” Van Niek­erk said.

The Bos­ton race will of­fer a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence as Van Niek­erk will race on an el­e­vated 200m straight track.

Sim­bine was ini­tially meant to race against Ja­maican sprinter Yohan Blake as he looks to rein in the ath­letes that fin­ished ahead of him in the 100m fi­nal at the Rio Olympic Games.

He will go into the five-lane race as the fastest man in the field with his national record of 9.89 while his sea­son’s best of 9.92 is still the sec­ond best so far, this year.

Mean­while, a strong South African field will be fly­ing the flag in the Czech Repub­lic on Mon­day with Olympic javelin sil­ver medal­ist Sunette Viljoen among the con­firmed en­trants.

Viljoen will open her in­ter­na­tional sea­son af­ter she with­drew from last week­end’s Eu­gene Di­a­mond League meet­ing where she will be look­ing to im­prove on her sea­son’s best of 63.49m heave from the national cham­pi­onships in April.

For­mer national 100m record-holder Hen­ri­cho Bru­in­tjies and the coun­try’s sec­ond fastest short-sprinter Thando Roto will open their in­ter­na­tional ac­counts in Prague.

Roto has been one of the form South African sprint­ers this sea­son rac­ing to a new per­sonal best of 9.95 which ranks him as the sec­ond fastest in the coun­try be­hind Sim­bine.

“It is quite mo­ti­vat­ing and ex­cit­ing know­ing I had such a great do­mes­tic sea­son, last year I didn’t have such a great sea­son at home but I felt I had a bet­ter one in Europe,” Roto said.

“So, I hope to pick up where I left off last year. Train­ing has been go­ing great so I am quite ex­cited about what I can do on Mon­day and over the next six weeks.”

Bru­in­tjies will have fond me­mories of Prague where he posted his sec­ond fastest of 10.06 back in 2015.

Com­mon­wealth Games 400m hur­dles cham­pion Cor­nel Fred­er­icks will make his sec­ond in­ter­na­tional ap­pear­ance this sea­son af­ter fin­ish­ing fifth at the Doha Di­a­mond League last month.

The coun­try’s top one-lap hur­dler Wenda Nel will also line up in Prague in only her sec­ond race in her third race in her spe­cial­ist event.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.