World U20 Championships Preview

Athletics Gauteng North’s Sokwakhana Zazini,right, will look to continue his fine form in the 400m hurdles event, at the World Under-20 Championships, in Poland. Here he is pictured crossing the finishing line at the ASA youth and junior Championships, in April. Photo by Keagan Mitchell.



With the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Junior Championships, in Finland, kicking off today, July 10, South Africa’s most talented under-20 athletes will look to continue the country’s consistent performances at global track and field competitions.

They will also look to set the tone for what is to be a bumper month of international athletics competitions. The IAAF World Junior Champs will be followed by the IAAF Athletics World Cup, the African Youth Games and the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) African Senior Championships.

While South Africa finished in 23rd place in the previous edition of the IAAF World Junior Championships, in Poland, in 2016, going home with three silver medals. The latest group will look to put up a better showing as six of the 19-member SA team are ranked among the top five junior athletes in their respective events in the world. While three of them won gold at last year’s IAAF World Youth Championships in Kenya.

Team SA will be led by national junior 100m record holder Thando Dlodlo who has been in fine form this season.  Dlodlo from Central Gauteng Athletics is the second fastest 100m junior athlete in the world this year, clocking a personal best of 10.11 seconds, at the Athletics South Africa (ASA) Senior Championships, in Pretoria, in March. Dlodlo who will also represent SA at the CAA African Senior Championships, in Nigeria, next month was also crowned boys’ under-20 200m champion at the ASA and CAA youth and junior Southern Regional Championships clocking 21.00 and 20.70 seconds, in April.

Last year Sokwakhana Zazini left commentators speechless after he won the 400m hurdles event by more than 50meteres from his nearest rival at last year’s World Youth Championships. He will arrive in Finland ready to pick up where he left off after dipping under 50 seconds in the one-lap hurdles event on six occasions this season. Zazini has already showed great form in Europe this season clocking 49.56 seconds to take fourth place in the men’s 400m hurdles, at the Praha Josef Odlozil Memorial, in Czech Republic.

Zeney van der Walt dominated the junior and senior national competitions in the 400m hurdles this season.  This comes after she finished second in the women’s 400m hurdles clocking a personal best of 55.05 seconds at the ASA senior championships, in Pretoria. She has been in a class of her own this season clocking 56.30 and 57.39 seconds to take the gold medal at the ASA and CAA youth and junior Southern Regional Championships. In her most recent outings, she stopped the clock in 56.79 and 55.42 seconds at the Mannheim Bauhaus Junior gala and Celle ligure Meeting Arcobaleno in Germany and Italy.

Western Province Athletics Breyton Poole will looking for consecutive gold medals at global competitions.  Although Poole failed to make the finals of the men’s high jump event at the Commonwealth Games, in April, he bounced back with a gold medal at the CAA youth and junior Southern Regional Championships, in the same month. Poole, a Grade 12 pupil at Paul Roos Gymnasium jumped 2.10m and 2.13m in his most recent competitions in Germany and Italy.

Boland’s Arno van Eeden will head into the World under-20 Championships on a high note, following his domiancne in the javelin event at the ASA and CAA youth and junior championships in April. If he gets anywhere close to his personal best of 77.59m it should secure him the gold medal.

Central Gauteng Athletics Kyle Blignaut leads the IAAF rankings in the boys’ under-20 shot put event with a distance of 21.65m. The boys’ under-20 SA and Southern Regional shotput champion will look to continue his form at the IAAF World Junior Championships.


Written by Keagan Mitchell