By Mark Etheridge
South Africa’s medal campaign gets underway with the men’s marathon at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing in the early hours of Saturday morning.
But Lukas Jani, who had already received his race vest, will have to sit out after regulations only allow for three athletes per country in the marathon.
The only exception is if a nation has a reigning world champion or Diamond League Race winner, meaning Uganda will be permitted four runners after Stephen Kiprotich won the event at the last championships in Moscow two years ago.
That leaves South Africa with Benedict Moeng, Desmond Mokgobu and Sibusiso Nzima.
Also in action for SA will be Rynardt van Rensburg, pictured above with Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha in Beijing, in the men’s 800 and in-form sprint duo Henricho Bruintjies and Akani Simbine.
Kovsie athlete Van Rensburg, who qualified in Slovenia is off 10min before noon (5.50am SA time) in what is expected to a sweltering Beijing afternoon.
‘I expect it to be tough, after all it is the best athletes in the world and my first world champs. I’m very exited and will run my heat as a final to try my best to make the semi-finals,’ he told Road to Rio 2016.
‘I’m here to gain experience and learn to run with the best but at the same time I believe I can make the semi-finals and I’ll give everything to get there. For me now I’m focusing on one race and that’s the heats.
The 400m hurdles heats see 2006 Commonwealth Games champion LJ van Zyl going off in heat two of five and back-from-injury Commonwealth champion Cornell Fredericks is in the fourth heat.’
Bruintjies and Akani Simbine are up against the very cream of the world’s fastest sprinters but with their joint SA record of 9.97sec finally meaning the country now has sub-10sec credibility, they will at least be hoping to get through to the semi-finals.