Ruswahl Samaai (Getty Images)

The 2017 world long jump champion, Luvo Manyonga, and Ruswahl Samaai, the world championships bronze medalist, are among a number of stars heading to Pretoria for the ASA Senior Track and Field Championships kicking off today.

A sold-out crowd welcomed some of the world’s finest athletes to the Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix Series in Pretoria on 8 March. A week later, and the nation’s top athletes flock to the same venue, only this time around in search of national medals and/or continental championships qualifying times. Leading the men’s charge will be Manyonga and Samaai who are no strangers to the big stage. At the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham last week, the charismatic Luvo soared to a best distance of 8.44m in the men’s long jump final. Two no jumps later and he walks away with the silver medal and a new African record. Samaai competed in the same meet, but he only did enough to occupy the sixth spot. Two days later, though, he produced a jump of 8.24m (-0.7) to win the Grand Prix Series. It’s clear that the guys are in great form, so spectators…please come expectant, two of the world’s top jumpers are in our midst.

Also lining up with hopes of snatching a national will be the in-form stars Clarence Munyai and Anaso Jobodwana. Right now Jobodwana must be on cloud 9. From starting his season with a very fast 20.13 seconds 200m victory in Ruimsig on 1 March to outwitting Justin Gatlin a week later, how can he not be? Another high flyer, Munyai, is also eyeing the highest spot on the podium after he won the title in 2016. Making a smooth transition onto the senior ranks, the world junior 300m record holder started his season with a bang when he stopped the clock on 10.10 seconds at Athletics Gauteng North Championships last month. He also fired warning shots when he clocked 20.18 seconds to finish second behind Jobodwana. But they will have it tough with Akani Simbine entered for both the 100m and 200m. The Olympic Games 100m finalist on 8 March proved that he is the leader of South Africa’s sprinting factory when he opened his season in chilly weather conditions in 10.05 seconds. Bear in mind, it wasn’t an all-out sprint, so spectators are in for a feast of fast, explosive and powerful sprinting if he chooses to go all-out for the 100-200m titles.

With most of the young distance runners heading to Algeria for the CAA African Cross Country Championships, it seems like Elroy Gelant and the likes of Rantso Mokopane and Dumisane Hlaselo will do all the talking when it comes to distance running at the weekend. Bouncing back to form, Gelant has his eyes set on the 5000m and 10000m titles after he narrowly missed out on the double last year. In the absence of his training partner Thabang Mosiako, it won’t be much of an uphill battle for the Athletics Central North West representative. Mokopane, also a training partner of Gelant, should again emulate his competitors in the 3000m steeplechase event. Having dominated the 7-and-a-half lap spectacle for the past three years, the FISU World Students Games silver medalist might add another one to his fast growing tally.

Other athletes you can also expect to have an impact on the track and field: Orazio Cremona (The South African Shot Put champion), Dumisane Hlaselo (a former 1500m national champion), Nkosinathi Sibiya (the 2017 silver medalist in the 1500m) and Leroux Hamman (the 2017 South African 400mh champion).


Written by Reggie Hufkie