With the nation’s top athletics embarking on their pre-season preparations for 2019, Athletics South Africa has announced three preparation squads ahead of various major international championships. The 47-member ASA senior preparation squad was named in the buildup to the 2019 IAAF World Championships to be held in Doha, Qatar next September.
The senior squad includes 33 men and 14 women, and is spearheaded by the 400m world record holder Wayde van Niekerk, who is expected to return to action from a knee injury, after missing the entire 2018 season.
The full strength squad also includes 800m superstar Caster Semenya, long jumpers Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai, javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen, and SA’s fastest man and woman, Akani Simbine and Carina Horn respectively, who have all shown prominence in the 2018 ASA senior rankings.
ASA confirmed it had also sent its excellence manager and former Olympic 800m silver medallist Hezekiel Sepeng to Doha to assess the conditions, with athletes expected to face multiple challenges at the global championships in the Qatari capital, including extreme temperatures and late competition schedules.
Sepeng will present his report on the host city at an ASA athletes’ briefing in Kempton Park on 9 November.
The national federation has also announced junior and youth preparation squads, consisting of 31 members, based on the latest 2018 ASA age-group rankings.
The U20 squad consists of 19 men and 12 women, including the likes of high jump sensation Breyton Poole, 400m hurdlers Sokwakhana ‘Soks’ Zazini and Zeney van der Walt, and the recently crowned Youth Olympics 100m champion Luke Davids, SA’s fastest youth athlete this year.
The U18 squad features 16 boys and 15 girls, and is led by the likes of middle-distance prospects Carmi Prinsloo and Prudence Sekgodiso, as well as Youth Olympics shot put bronze medallist Dane Roets, who are all expected to shine again in the youth age group next season after topping the 2018 national rankings in their events this year.
The progress of the athletes in the age-group squads will be monitored by ASA in the buildup to various international championships next year, including the 2019 CAA African U18 and U20 Championships, scheduled to take place in the Ivory Coast between 13-20 April, and the 2019 CAA Southern Region U18 and U20 Championships to be held in Boksburg between 10-11 May.
Photo: Wayde van Niekerk celebrates after winning the men’s 400m final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017. By Matthias Hangst/Getty Images