IMG_0196The country’s top sub-youth, youth, junior and under/23 athletes will gather at the Germiston Stadium, Ekurhuleni for this weekend’s ASA National Championships. A number of great performances are expected bearing in mind the recent attention the sport has received.

Gift Leotlela, Clarence Munyai, Theuns Ehlers, Ikageng Goarekwe, Taylon Bieldt, George Kusche, Leandri Geel, Kyle Appel, Gezelle Magerman and Tamzin Thomas are just a few names that will be headlining the junior section of the championships that kicks off tomorrow. These athletes have been battling it out with senior athletes throughout the season making them much more confident competing against their fellow junior stars who will also fight for their spots in the team heading to the world junior championships in Poland in July.

Munyai, however, became the first South African in 2016 to qualify for the Olympics, yes Olympics, in the men’s 200m race when the youngster clocked a blistering fast 20.39sec 200m! His compatriot and training partner Gift Leotlela, on the other hand, has been running consistent 10.3sec 100m races and he is definitely an athlete that will qualify for world junior championships and possibly the Olympic Games as well. Leotlela has clocked a 10.24 sec this year against a -0.3 headwind. Not to forget that also in this race will be the ever so ready Kyle Appel who always brings his a-game to the mix. Also in action will be 14 year old double amputee Ntando Mahlangu who will be in the boys 15 400m race.

Theuns Ehlers and George Kusche have been battling out all year round in the 800m and these championships provide the perfect opportunity to see who is the best 800m youngster in the country. Taylon Bieldt, Gezelle Magerman and Tamzin Thomas should be watched with an owls-eye in the girls sprint events whilst powerhouse Leandri Geel should not be overlooked as something special awaits in the discus circle! Lastly, a big group of top athletes coached by the legendary Pierre Blignaut will strut their abilities on the field making it a very exciting affair. In the u/15 girls 800m race an intense battle between Kyla Meyer, Lee-Anne Blake and Senosi will take place as Youth girls Simonay Weitsz and Liza Kellerman will once again look to take their rivalry to the next level as they too chase that Junior qualifying 800m time.

The under/23 athletes will be looking to either qualify for Olympics or compete for a spot in their respective Varsity teams participating in the second leg of the Varsity athletics event. Nonetheless, some of the sprinters that will be looking to take advantage of the altitude are: Tebogo Mamathu, Thando Roto, Samkelo Sabela, Jon Seeliger and Barend Koekemoer. Both Sabela and Roto will be hoping to dip under the 10.16sec qualifying mark to get a spot in the men’s 100m team heading to Rio whereas Mamathu would want to break her personal best of 11.40sec to reach the 11.32sec 100m women’s Olympic qualifying mark. Tshepang Makhete and Stefanie Greyling will take to the Hammer Throw circle and will aim to break their personal bests. Werner Visser and Burger Lamprechts also never fails to disapoint and deliver stellar performances in the Shotput and Discus. Youth athlete Kyle Blignaut will most definitely also be an athlete to look out for in the Shotput as he has already thrown past the 20m mark this year.

Koekemoer and Seeliger will be hoping to dip under 45.5sec in the men’s 400m to be considered for qualification; a feat that is possible for these elite men who already represented South Africa on senior level. Whilst competing at altitude benefits sprinters and possibly also jumpers and throwers, the long/middle distance athletes have to bear the brunt and run slower times. But the under/23 men’s 800m and 1500m races will be a tight affair as many athletes across the country has been showing form, however, athletes will have a difficult time qualifying for the big spectacle in August. These athletes include Llewellyn Groenevelt who recently clocked a 3:46 on the 1500m as well as Bruce-Lynn Damons who put down a 3:45. Also Anthony Timoteus, Darren du Bruyn, Pieter Conradie, Siphiwe Tefo and Jabolane Ncamane will alsp be present to show off their skills.

Lindsay Hannekom has ran two races and 2 pb’s this year in the 400m hurdles, will he make it number 3? Chris Moleya and Mpho Links will be looking to target the 2.25m mark in the High Jump as youngster Breyton Poole will also come to show them what he can do when he competes in the younger age category.

The rest of the under/23 events will be great to watch because great performances will be expected.

We look forward to great performances on the track as well as on the field and this is an opportunity to show South Africa that track is back! See you there.