SA team set to dominate Southern Region Youth Track and Field Champs in Tshwane

2009-06-12 00:00

WITH the Confederation Cup commencing this weekend, the main focus of athletics is on track and field and cross-country events.

South Africa hosts the Southern Region Youth Track and Field Championships in LC De Villiers Stadium in Tshwane tomorrow.

About 150 athletes from 14 countries will be in action in one of the last opportunities to impress the selectors for inclusion in the teams to the World Youth Championships in Bressanone, Italy, in July.

South Africa’s strong team of 24 boys and 20 girls are expected to top the medal table, with KZN’s Simone Meyer (discus) and Justine Palframan (sprints) tipped to be among the medallists.

The championships were originally scheduled for Namibia, but were moved to South Africa when the Namibian federation was suspended by the IAAF at the end of April due to internal differences.

South African senior athletes are reaching form on the European circuit, with both LJ van Zyl and Johan Cronje making the required IAAF A Grade qualifications to be selected for the World Athletics Championships in Berlin in August.

Van Zyl returned to form in Monday night’s 400m hurdle race in Prague, finishing second to David Greene in a time of 48,78 seconds, only 0,16 seconds behind the British athlete. The tables were turned in Poland where van Zyl clocked a season’s best of 48,71 seconds and was adjudged to have the edge over Greene, who was given the same time.

On Wednesday night in Greece, Cronje took on Kenya’s Gideon Gathimba and Bahrain’s Bilal Mansour Ali to finish third in a personal best time of 3 min 35,11 secs, and now joins Juan van Deventer and Peter van der Westhuizen as South Africans who have beaten the 3 min 36,20 secs qualifying time.

Other South Africans making headway on the European circuit include Sunette Viljoen, who was one centimetre off qualification with her 60,99m javelin throw in Prague. Samson Ngoepe won his 800m in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1 min 46,47 secs.

Meanwhile the marathon squad, including KZN’s Tanith Maxwell, have moved into camp in Potchefstroom in order to prepare for their assault on the World Championships in Berlin. This is the first time in recent history that the squad have been brought together in this fashion and this is a major step towards the athletes competing as a team instead of purely individual performances.

The next cross-country league will be hosted by Verulam Athletics Club at Mount Moreland off the Umdloti Road, which is accessible from the M40 or N2 freeway.

Although quite hilly, this is a very scenic course and one of the leagues not to miss. The programme commences at noon and finishes with the senior men 12km race after 3 pm. Anand Naicker has more details at 083 7836363

The next local road race will be the Queensburgh Harriers 10 km on July 5, whereas the province’s elite will be preparing for the Nedbank SA 21km championships to be held in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, July 4.

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