Led by the 400m world record holder Wayde van Niekerk, South Africa’s sprinting resurgence is set to be raised to new heights when the crème de la crème of the country’s sprinters face-off in Potchefstroom over the weekend. Lining up as favourites to battle it out for men’s 200m crown are the South African 100m and 400m record holders Akani Simbine and Wayde van Niekerk, the 2016 World Junior Championships 200m silver medallist Gift Leotlela and the World Championships bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana. However, after clocking impressive season’s openers of 9.92sec and 19.95sec over the short sprints, the major championships medallists will have to thread carefully when facing AGN’s in-shape sprinter.

Despite coming very close, Thando Roto could not hinder Simbine’s unbeaten run after placing second in an historic race which saw both men dipping under the magical 10sec-barrier. Defending 100m champion Henricho Bruintjies, on the other hand, will have to play his cards right if he looks to defend his title against the new sensation Thando Roto, 110mh Olympian Antonio Alkana and Western Province’s Roscoe Engel; after all, the coastal athletes have a point to prove.
The 2016 100m and 200m women’s champion Alyssa Conley will also have to raise the bar if she has her eyes set on another double. She will face fierce competition from fellow Olympian Carina Horn and the African Championships 4x100m gold medallist Tebogo Mamatu. Despite equalling Evette de Klerk’s long-standing South African 100m record of 11.06sec in early 2016, Horn is still to regain the same kind of form. Not counting the chickens before they hatch, but we are in for one of the fastest, if not the fastest, women’s short sprints events ever run on South African soil! The question is: will the weather-man play along?

Whilst the sprinters are experiencing an all-time high, the field eventers remain consistent. Leading the charge in the field events are Olympic silver medallists Sunette Viljoen and Luvo Manyonga who have their eyes set on putting up a show for the spectators. Boasting with high-flying confidence, Sunette might steal the show when she lines up to defend another national title. No other South African female Javelin thrower comes to close to the 60m mark, so another title awaits Viljoen. The new African Long Jump record holder Luvo Manyonga, one the other hand, will face tough competition from the CGA-trio that includes African long jump champion Ruswahl Samaai, the Commonwealth Games silver medallist Zarck Visser and the 2016 South African bronze medallist Dylon Cotter. With a line-up like this, Manyonga will be encouraged to better his African record of 8.62m set at the AGN championships in March. But what should his competitors say about this? Well, they will have to go better than their 8.41m (Visser), 8.38m (Samaai) and 8.16m (Cotter) personal bests if they want to take Manyonga off his current high!

Caster Semenya, in the meantime, will only line up in the women’s 800m and 400m events this time around. With her eyes set on dipping under 2min for the 800m and 51sec for the 400m, spectators can brace themselves for great performances from the double Olympic gold medallist! Victories will not come easy as KZN’s Gena Lofstrand and the World University 400m champion Justine Palframan lines up with hopes of taking away Semenya’s crown. It should be an interesting battle, but if Semenya pitches up ready to race, Heidi Seyerling’s 50.05sec 400m record is set to go.

You can expect a fight for the title in the men’s 400mh race as LJ van Zyl, Leroux Hamman, Cornel Fredericks and Lindsay Hanekom will line-up with high hopes. Three of the four men already dipped under 50sec this season and if things go accordingly, the winner should dip under 49sec in Potch! Whilst the men have to fight for glory, Wenda Nel is the clear favourite to win the women’s 400mh!
Long distance specialists Elroy Gelant and Stephen Mokoka will also be seen in action in both the 5000m and 10000m events whereas the in-shape ACNW athletes Rantso Mokopane and Jerry Motsau will have home-ground advantage when they line up as favourites in the men’s 1500m and 3000msc respectively. After showcasing top form, Anel Oosthuizen and Lebogang Shange are heading to Potch to defend their titles.
With such a world-class line-up entered for this weekend’s ASA Senior Championships, we are geared for the best ever national championships! #FillUpPotch