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SA youngsters in long haul

The South African track and field team for the IAAF World Junior Championships will be well-travelled youngsters when they finally reach their destination of Moncton, Canada.

Already the team have logged up 32 hours of air travel since leaving Durban on Wednesday.

The 20 athletes and team management spent Thursday night at Toronto International Airport, after their air trip from London’s Heathrow International Airport to Toronto took off 45 minutes late which meant they missed their connecting flight to Moncton.

While airport officials have been hard at work tracing 20 pieces of the team’s luggage that failed to arrive in Toronto, the athletes were still able to impress people at the Toronto airport with their team spirit as they made the best of a challenging situation.

Stellenbosch based Luvo Manyonga, who recently broke the African long jump junior record with a leap of 8.19 metres, and fellow long jumper Stefan Brits, plus team manager Mario Smith, will travel from Europe to Moncton on Friday to link up with the rest of the team.

ÔÇ£Despite the travel challenges, the athletes are in good spirit and with no SA athletes in action in the 3000 metres ÔÇô the only event on the opening day of the world junior showpiece on Monday ÔÇô the team has an extra day to get used to the conditions in Moncton before competing on Tuesday,ÔÇØ said Team SA’s Chef de Mission, Pieter Lourens.

ÔÇ£Some of the athletes have given an idea to the team management of what performances they wish to achieve and we are confident that the team will be able to keep the SA sports flag flying briskly. The athletes are keen to show their worth on the international junior stage in order to prove to the financial supporter of the event ÔÇô the National Lottery Distribution Fund ÔÇô that junior athletics in SA is on a good footing.ÔÇØ

The team faces a final flight of two hours from Toronto to St John on Friday before a one-hour bus trip to Moncton.


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