CAA African Senior Champs preview

Team SA’s, Akani Simbine, Ruswahl Samaai and Luvo Manyonga celebrating each other’s personal victories at the World Championships in 2017. Photo by Getty Images

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Team South Africa will look to impress at the 21st edition of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) African Senior Championships, in Assaba, in Nigeria, today.  The 79-member team that includes 47 men and 32 women has a healthy balance between experience and upcoming stars that features the likes of Akani Simbine, Luvo Manyonga, Caster Semenya, Zeney van der Walt, Sokwakhana Zazini and Breyton Poole.  Team SA will be among the favorites to top the medal count after they dominated the previous edition in Durban in 2016. They bagged a total of 33 medals that included 16 gold, nine silver and eight bronze.

South Africa will be led by Akani Simbine who was crowned men’s 100m champion, at the Commonwealth Games, in Australia, in April. Simbine will go into the competition in a good vein of form following his sub-10 second performances on four occasions in the past two months.  Boland born Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai will be overwhelming favourites in the men’s long jump event at the African Championships. The duo has been in fine form this season including the most recent IAAF Diamond League meet, in London, in the United Kingdom where they (Manyonga and Samaai) finished in first and second place respectively.  The 200m SA Senior Champion Luxolo Adams will represent the country for only the second time following his third-place finish, at the inaugural Athletics World Cup, in London, last month. Adams will now eye a podium spot at the African Championships to continue his incredible track and field season.  Caster Semenya should win the women’s 800m event comfortably as she has never been beaten in the 2-lap event this season. She will look to do the double when she competes in the 1500m event as well.  The national 100m hurdles record holder Rikenette Steenkamp will look to win the title that she won in Marrakesh, in Morocco, in 2014. However, the 100m hurdles World Cup champion, will have to deal with Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan who won the 100m hurdles event, at the Commonwealth Games.

World U20 Champions: Zeney van der Walt (400m hurdles), Sokwakhana Zazini (400m hurdles), and Kyle Blignaut (shot put) and bronze medallist Breyton Poole will all be in action at the African Championships. The quartet will look to make an impact on senior level following their incredible season as a junior. Although he did not finish on the podium at the World U20 Championships, Boland’s Anro van Eeden will hope to make the most of his opportunity at the African Championships.  Athletes who do well at the African Championships will get a chance to represent Africa at the International Associations of Athletics Federations(IAAF) Continental Cup, in Ostrava, in Czech Republic, in September.


Written by Keagan Mitchell