Team SA athletes ready to pick up the baton - TeamSA

Athletes ready to pick up the baton

Sunette Viljoen

Team SA’s swimmers did their job in the first week of the African Games in Casablanca and now it’s over to the track and field athletes who start their competition on Monday in Rabat.

Two of South Africa’s most decorated athletes, former World Championships medallists Anaso Jobodwana and Sunette Viljoen, will lead a powerful track and field squad. Jobodwana, a former SA record holder in the 200m sprint, will captain the 19-member men’s team and Viljoen, the African women’s javelin throw record holder, will spearhead the 18-strong women’s squad.

Aside from turning out in the individual 200m race, alongside Chederick van Wyk, Jobodwana will also be joined by 100m sprinters Thando Dlodlo and Henricho Bruintjies in a podium race in the men’s 4x100m relay.

With the 100m relay squad having already qualified for the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar next month, this will give them another opportunity to prepare for the showpiece.

‘We have assembled what we believe to be the best athletes available to anchor Team South Africa in the North African showpiece,’ said Aleck Skhosana, the president of Athletics South Africa. ‘We are confident that even without some of our top athletes who are unavailable due to other commitments, those we have selected will represent us well.

‘It is a great opportunity for athletes to chase African glory and use the contest as a springboard to the World Championships next month in Doha. It’s also perfect for those who are still looking to qualify for the same competition.

‘All our athletes have been given a mandate to keep the flag flying high in the SASCOC-led team during Africa’s premier multi-sports extravaganza where the best-of-the-best fight for honours.’

In other disciplines, national champion Lindsay Hanekom and world junior champion Sokwakhana “Soks” Zazini will aim to build on the fine form they have shown this year in the 400m hurdles, while Orazio Cremona and another of the country’s global U20 champions, Kayle Blignaut, will launch a joint assault in the shot put circle.

On the road, Wayne Snyman will also be eager to turn his spectacular form this season into a medal in the men’s 20km walk.

Viljoen, meanwhile, will look to extend her continental dominance in her specialist discipline. She will not be alone though, with the nation’s elite women expected to play a key role in lifting the SA squad’s medal count at the multi-sport spectacle.

Among them on the track, SA champion Tebogo Mamatu will line up against Africa’s fastest women in the 100m sprint, while world junior champion Zeney van der Walt and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Wenda Nel will be chasing a podium double in the 400m hurdles event.

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