Athletix Grand Prix Series Showdown

 

Photo by Attila Kisbenedek/AFP.

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It’s all systems go for the inaugural Athletix Grand Prix Series.

The Athletix Grand Prix Series meets will take place across three venues across the country, in March. This will leave fans off their seats as some of the biggest names in track and field will arrive on South African shores. Also, some of the country’s top athletes will do battle that will leave us with a mouth-watering competition over the three-legged series.

The Athletix Grand Prix Series first stop will take place in Johannesburg, on Thursday, March 1, before moving up north to Tshwane, on Thursday, March 8. The final stop will be at Dal Josaphat Stadium, in Paarl, on Thursday, March 22.

The fastest man in Africa, Akani Simbine will look to start off his track and field season with a bang at the second of three Athletix Grand Prix Series meetings at the Bestmed Tuks Stadium in Tshwane.

The Rio Olympic 100m finalist became the first South African to dip under 10 seconds in the 100m and under 20 seconds in the 200m on the same day, at the Athletics Gauteng North championships, last year.

Simbine who has a personal best of 9.89 seconds in the 100m first target would be to win the gold medal in the 100m event at the Commonwealth Games, in Australia, in April. However, his journey to achieve that begins in Pretoria in March.

Another fan favourite, Caster Semenya will also hope to make a statement at the Athletix Grand Prix Series before she heads off to the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Semenya a three-time and two-time World and Olympic champion respectively in the 800m event did not only win the gold medal at last year’s world championships in London but also walked away with the bronze in the 1500m event. This was the first time Semenya did the 1500m at a major competition.  She made name for herself back in 2008 when she won the gold medal in the 800m event at the world junior championships in Bydgoszcz.

We can also look forward to seeing former national 200m record holder Anaso Jobodwana in action.  The Eastern Cape born athlete was the surprise package at the world championships in Beijing in 2015 after he won the bronze medal in the men’s 200m event in a time of 19.87 seconds. He also won the gold medal in the 100m and 200m sprint events at the world student games, in Kazan in 2013.

The biggest international star to hit our shores will be American sprinter Justin Gatlin after former 200m and 400m Michael Johnson in 2000.  The three-time world champion who is the fifth fastest ever human being in the 100m and 200m sprint events, will take part in his first ever 150m event at the Bestmed Tuks Stadium in Tshwane. Last year Gatlin surprised the world when he beat eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt and world indoor 60m record holder Christian Coleman to win the gold medal at the world championships, in London. He won’t be the only America competing as sprinter Trentavis Friday who won the gold medal in the men’s under-20 200m sprints at the world junior championships in Oregon in 2014 will also be on our shores. He was also part of the 4x100m relay team that won the gold medal.  We will also see Friday’s training partner Justin Walker who is a 100m and 200m specialist compete in South Africa.

Kenya’s Julius Yego is another athlete who we should watch out for in the Javelin event.  This comes after he won the gold medal with a distance of 92.72m at the world championships in Beijing in 2015.  A year later, Yego followed that up with a silver medal at the Rio Olympics in Brazil. Nicknamed ‘Mr Youtuber’ after he shot to fame when it was discovered that he had used YouTube to coach himself in the early stages of his career.

Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei is another big name who will take part in the 1500m event, in the first of the three Athletix Grand Prix Series meets in Johannesburg.  Last year Cheptegei won the silver medallist in the 1500m event, at the world championships in London. He is no stranger to South African shores after he won the inaugural FNB Durban 10K CitySurfRun in a time of 28:27 which was also a new all comers record in the 10km distance last year.  We will also see his countrymen Ronald Musagala who made the finals of the 1500m event at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Other big track and field names in South Africa to have confirmed their participation thus far are Ruswahl Samaai, Clarence Munyai, Kurt Couto, Henricho Bruintjies, Rikenette Steenkamp, Dominque Scott-Efurd, Wenda Nel, Lynique Prinsloo, Orazio Cremona, Folavio Sehohle, Gladwin Mzazi and Lebogang Phalula.

 

Written by Keagan Mitchell