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Track and field aces set to light up Coetzenberg at nationals next week
- Updated: April 7, 2016
After an explosive start to the season, the country’s top athletes are gearing up for a showdown at SA Senior Track and Field and Combined Events Championships on 15-16 April at Stellenbosch where they will be targeting national titles and Olympic qualifying marks on offer.
Powerhouse speedster Akani Simbine, who set a national 100-metre record of 9.96 seconds in Johannesburg last month, is expected to face strong challenges from a rising junior contingent including Gift Leotlela and Clarence Munyai over the short-sprint distances.
With former SA 100m joint-record holder Henricho Bruintjies, in-form IAAF World 400m Champion Wayde van Niekerk, joint national Women’s 100m record holder Carina Horn and resurgent speedster Alyssa Conley, all turning out at Coetzenburg Stadium, the sprint events are expected to headline the two-day event.
Adding variety to the excitement in the build-up, the likes of 2012 Olympic Games silver medallist Caster Semenya and SA 10km champion Elroy Gelant are also due to light up the track in middle-distance races, while Stephen Mokoka – who broke the national 5000m mark at last year’s Coetzenburg showpiece, will be defending his SA 10,000m crown. His sights are set on the longer distance for the Rio Olympic Games.
In field events, a wide open race for qualifying spots in the men’s long jump will begin to take shape, with a host of experienced stars due to square off against a new brigade in a much-anticipated contest spearheaded by Luvo Manyonga.
On the road, Lebogang Shange will lead a group of race walkers who are taking the discipline to new levels and making an admirable impact on the international circuit.
The annual championships will also include 10 finals in disability events, in the build-up to the Rio Paralympics in September.
‘This event is the highlight of the domestic season,’ said Athletics South Africa President, Aleck Skhosana. ‘We look forward to hosting the best athletes from around the country, and we urge supporters to turn out in their numbers and get behind the stars of our sport before we bid them farewell in preparation for the Olympics.’
Picture of ASA Night Series action courtesy of ROGER SEDRES/IMAGESA