‘SA can bank on us for medals’

2011-08-31 10:13

Debutants at the senior World Championships, Luvo Manyonga and Roscoe Engel, say South Africa can bank on them as the country’s chase for a medal continues at the track and field extravaganza in South Korea.

Manyonga will be among a huge contingent of the country’s athletes that will take part in tomorrow’s morning and afternoon sessions while Engel will race in the men’s 4x100m relay on the final day on Sunday.

Reigning world junior champion Manyonga will, together with Berlin 2009 silver medallist Khotso Mokoena, line up in the men’s long jump qualifiers.

Boland Athletics runner Manyonga said he was not overawed ahead of his debut on the big stage, despite marking his maiden appearance at this level.

“I am feeling pretty confident and I expect a good jump to improve on my 8.26m,” said Manyonga shortly after his workout at the athletes’ warm-up area.

“The challenge is the humidity but I believe that I can overcome that in the first three jumps before I get tired. I strongly believe that I will make it.”Engel, one of the new members in the 4x100m relay group, was equally upbeat.

“Our coach, Eugene Thipe, has done well in reshuffling the group and I hope I will make a difference as the new member in the team. Coach Thipe took us to the podium at the Junior World Champs (in Poland) in 2008 and such an achievement has instilled a winning mentality in me.”

Meanwhile, the big guns will take to the stage tomorrow when South Africa competes in four qualifying events and two finals.

World Students Games javelin champion Sunette Viljoen will throw in Group A with her teammate Justine Robbeson also carrying the country’s hopes in Group B.

Manyonga and Mokoena will also bid for a final spot in the men’s long jump eliminators.

The spotlight will undoubtedly be cast on Caster Semenya who begins the defence of her title in the women’s 800m qualifiers.

The 20-year-old Limpopo-born runner’s success at Berlin 2009 was overshadowed by a sex verification row.

She has never really set the stage alight since her return to competition in July last year and her performances leading up to the Daegu games also raised concerns as she had never got closer to the 1:55.45 that elevated her to the global champ two years ago.

It remains to be seen if Semenya’s continuous snub of the media here is just a trick to remain focused on her race which takes off at midday (5am SA time).

Another big event tomorrow night will see Ruben Ramolefi bidding for his first world title in the men’s 3 000m steeplechase final.

Ramolefi has had a good run so far, cracking a new South African record in 8:11.50 during the qualifiers on Tuesday.

In another final, LJ van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks will take their places in the men’s 400m hurdles final while the 2006 World Junior champion Robert Oosthuizen will also line up in the javelin throw qualifiers in the evening.

The 4x400m team will also take to the track.

» Follow Mothowagae on Twitter @DanieMothowagae for regular updates from Daegu 2011. Follow City Press @City_Press

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