No Wayde van Niekerk, but Akani Simbine leads strong SA team at African Championships

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South African sprinter Akani Simbine (Gallo Images)
South African sprinter Akani Simbine (Gallo Images)
Anton Geyser/Gallo Images
  • SA's 100m star Akani Simbine will lead a strong team for the African Championships in Mauritius next month.
  • The team also features Caster Semenya in the 5 000m but there's no Wayde van Niekerk, who got injured last month.
  • Simbine will look for revenge against Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala after the 100m defeat in Germiston.

SA's 100m star Akani Simbine will lead a strong team, featuring Caster Semenya in the 5 000m, for the African Track and Field Championships taking place in Mauritius next month.

Olympic gold medalist Wayde van Niekerk was not named in the 89-member team, however, after withdrawing from the South African Athletics Championships suddenly through injury last month.

Simbine will look for revenge against the in-form 100m sprinter in the world at the moment, Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala, who beat Simbine in Germiston in April.

Omanyala ran the leading 100m time in the world this year - 9.85sec - at the Kip Keino Classic early this month before claiming the 100m and 200m double at the International Castiglione Athletic Meeting in Italy last weekend.

READ | Sprint supremo Akani Simbine opens up on relay frustration: 'What else must we do?'

Simbine bounced back from the Germiston defeat to win the Cape Town leg of the SA Athletics Championship Grand Prix at Green Point Stadium, but his 10.31sec was well off Omanyala's season-best, who wasn't present.

Team SA's 89-member squad will also feature Caster Semenya, who has battled to make her mark in the 5 000m event after being barred from running her favoured 800m race due to IAAF laws.

Athletics South Africa president James Moloi said the team headed to the tournament beginning 8 to 12 June would comprise the bulk of the one headed to Oregon later in July.

Team SA is also building toward the 2022 Commonwealth Games beginning in Birmingham on 28 July.

"The core of the team to the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, is expected to come from here," said Moloi.

"We congratulate all the athletes who have met the qualifying standards and must now go and make the Rainbow Nation proud. Athletes, who have not made it here, are encouraged not to give up and keep pushing as the door to Oregon remains open for another month.

"We are all looking forward to the African Championships where the best of the continent will congregate to do battle to be the best on the continent."

The national team also features the likes of Olympic shot put finalist Kyle Blignaut, national 200m record holder Clarence Munyai, and SA 5 000m record holder Elroy Gelant, as well as Antonio Alkana (110m hurdles) and Victor Hogan (discus throw).

Six sprinters have also been included in a promising men's 4x100m relay team - Simbine, Munyai, Henricho Bruintjies, Emile Erasmus, Sinesipho Dambile and Benjamin Richardson - who will turn out in defence of SA's continental title.

SA's men's 4x100m relay team was stripped of its World Athletic Relay Championships gold they won in Poland last year after Thando Dlodlo was found guilty of using a banned substance.

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