SA athletes readies for Games

Johannesburg - Some of South Africa's brightest track and field medal prospects will have a final chance to sharpen up this weekend ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Of the 19 SA athletes competing at the Commonwealth spectacle starting next week, five of them will turn out on the European circuit on Friday and Saturday.

National 1 500m record holder Johan Cronje and 400m hurdler Wenda Nel will be the only South African athletes in action at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco on Friday night.

Defending Commonwealth women's javelin throw champion Sunette Viljoen was included in the provisional start lists, but she withdrew in order to focus on preparation for the Games.

"I want to train at home for as long as possible and only then fly to Glasgow," Viljoen, who will leave for the Scottish city next week, said on Thursday.

Cronje, preparing to face the Kenyan juggernaut in Glasgow, will have a perfect opportunity to fine-tune in Monaco where he faces an East African onslaught led by defending Commonwealth champion Silas Kiplagat, as well as world and Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop.

Nel, meanwhile, will make her Diamond League debut after a breakthrough 2014 campaign at lower-tier events.

Six of the eight women in the line-up have run faster than Nel's personal best of 54.82 seconds this season, and she will hope to be dragged through for another fast time.

On Saturday, three members of Team SA will turn out at the World Challenge meeting in Madrid.

Rising two-lap star Andre Olivier goes in the men's 800m race, while training partners Khotso Mokoena and Zarck Visser are in the field for the men's long jump event.

Visser will compete in his specialist discipline at the Games, while Mokoena, returning to his roots, will participate in the men's triple jump in Glasgow.

Struggling 800m runner Caster Semenya and in-form 100m sprinter Carina Horn, who did not qualify for the Games, will also compete in the Spanish capital.

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