Athletics

Team SA depart for London World Champs

Akani Simbine and Wayde van Niekerk (Getty Images)
Akani Simbine and Wayde van Niekerk (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Team South Africa departs on Monday for the biennial IAAF World Championships starting in London on Friday and ending on August 13.

The team includes seven national record holders - Akani Simbine (100m), Wayde van Niekerk (200m and 400m), Antonio Alkana (110m hurdles), Luvo Manyonga (long jump), Lebogang Shange (20km walk), Carina Horn (200m) and Caster Semenya (800m).

South African athletes have enjoyed a spectacular 2017 season and with a handful of individuals dominating the rankings in their specialist disciplines, the country's track and field stars are expected to continue their upward trajectory.

The powerful squad will be led by world-class sprinters and jumpers who have again stuck up their hands by carrying the national flag on the international circuit this season.

Van Niekerk holds the world lead in the 400m event (43.62) and has clocked two of the three fastest times this year, while Simbine is ranked third in the 100m (9.92) and has run under 10 seconds on eight occasions this season.

Both speedsters are also expected to put up a fight in a wide open 200m battle, with Van Niekerk ranked second (19.84) and Simbine rated fifth (19.95) in the half-lap event.

In the long jump, Manyonga holds the world lead (8.65m) and compatriot Ruswahl Samaai is ranked second (8.49m).

Between them, Manyonga and Samaai currently boast 11 of the top 12 performances in the global rankings and they will both line up among the favourites for podium places.

Semenya, meanwhile, has displayed superb shape in the women's 800m event, having set the fastest time in the world this year when she clocked a 1:55.27 national record at the recent IAAF Diamond League Meeting in Monaco.

She has clocked four of the 11 quickest times on the circuit this season over two laps and will also hope to spring a surprise over 1 500m after being entered into both events.

Having found some consistency at the highest level and charging to a national record of 13.11 in the 110m hurdles this season, Antonio Alkana is ranked seventh in his favoured discipline. He will aim to stun his more fancied opponents.

Having ended fifth in the athletics competition at last year's Rio Olympics with two golds and two silver medals, South Africa has since established itself as a force at age group level this season, with the long-term Athletics SA (ASA) qualifying policy introduced last year assisting in raising the standard across the board.

The SA youth team finished top of the standings to become world champions at the recent IAAF World U18 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya with 11 medals (five gold, three silver and three bronze), while the national junior team ended second behind Ethiopia with 17 medals (12 gold, four silver and one bronze) at the CAA African U-20 Championships in Tlemcen, Algeria.

"We believe this senior team has the ability to challenge for an improved performance after they finished 13th with three medals (one gold and two bronze) at the 2015 edition of the IAAF World Championships in Beijing," said ASA President, Aleck Skhosana.

"The athletes who have been selected are in good shape and they have proved they are in form to challenge for places in the semi-finals.

"We call on them to deliver their best and progress through all the rounds and possible set their personal best and win medals for the country."

Rikenette Steenkamp in the 100m hurdles has been withdrawn from the team due to injury while ASA will make a statement on Olympic javelin throw silver medallist Sunette Viljoen later.

Viljoen has pulled out with an injury.

27-strong SA team for the IAAF World Championships in London from August 4-13:

Men 

100m

Akani Simbine, Thando Roto

200m 

Akani Simbine, Wayde van Niekerk, Clarence Munyai

400m 

Wayde van Niekerk, Pieter Conradie

10 000m

Stephen Mokoka

Marathon

April Lusapho, Sibusiso Nzima, Desmond Mokgobu

110m hurdles

Antonio Alkana

Long Jump

Luvo Manyonga, Ruswahl Samaai, Zarck Visser

Shot Put

Oratio Cremona, Jaco Engelbrecht

Discus

Victor Hogan

Javelin

Rocco van Rooyen

20km walk

Shange Lebogang

Women

100m

Carina Horn

200m

Justine Palframan

800m

Caster Semenya, Gena Lofstrand

1 500m

Caster Semenya

Marathon

Mapaseka Makhanya, Jenna Challenor

400m hurdles

Wenda Nel 

4x400m relay

Justine Palframan, Gena Lofstrand, Ariane Nel, Zoe Engler, Caster Semenya, Wenda Nel

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