Cape Town — The Germiston Athletics Stadium will from April 25-27 witness a number of head to head competitions that are sure to make the athletics fan salivate thanks to the ASA Senior Track & Field and Combined Events Championships .
Events that will get the South African athletics fans excited about the upcoming championships will include:
With no Akani Simbine in the mix, the battle for the national 100m title will come down to four likely athletes:
Simon Magakwe was the first South African to break 10 seconds in 2014 when he ran 9.98 seconds in Tshwane. Magakwe has moved from Rustenburg to the Cape and is now being coached by Paul Gorries, World Junior 200m champion in 2000. Magakwe opened his season with a 10.06 seconds in Parow and is looking in ominous form.
Henricho Bruintjies comes into the race with favourite status. The 2016 SA 100m champion may not have broken the 10 seconds mark since his 9.97 in 2015, but he has certainly earned his favourite status. A member of the African Championships gold medal 4x100m relay team, Bruintjies won the silver medal in the 100m at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 behind Akani Simbine and was a member of the silver medal 4x100m relay team that set a national record of 38.24 seconds.
Thando Roto can never be ignored. The powerful 23-year-old boasts a personal best of 9.95 seconds, but has been injury prone. A fit Roto though, is a dangerous protagonist. With his bullet start, he puts immense pressure on the rest of the field if they have to play catch up.
Emile Erasmus has been threatening a big break-through for years and is expected to break the 10 seconds mark sooner rather than later. On his day, he is a threat to anyone.
This may be the race of the Championships as Akani Simbine , a 19.95 seconds man takes on the SA record holder, Clarence Munyai .
Simbine has proven time and again that he has what it takes to rise to the big occasion, winning the African 100m title, the Commonwealth Games 100m title, has the most sub 10sec clocking by a South African and holds the SA 100m record.
He faces the incredibly talented Munyai who shook the sprinting fraternity when he took the SA 200m record down to 19.69 seconds in the semi-finals of the 2018 version of the Championships. Munyai has a tendency to tense up when the 'big guns' are out and the showdown between him and Simbine will be of great interest to the athletics fraternity.
Long Jump men
This is one of the most eagerly anticipated competitions of the Championships:
Luvo Manyonga is a big draw card of the sport and his energetic and carefree approach to long jump has won him the adoration of the South African public. Not to mention his world title in 2017 and Olympic Silver in 2016.
Ruswahl Samaai is a fierce competitor who cannot be discounted in the battle of the pit. Samaai has twice won the Africa long jump title, bronze at the World Championships in 2017 and bronze at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. His 8.49m best is a clear indication of how good he is.
Zarck Visser is known for his flamboyance in the long jump. Already Visser has equalled his PB in the long jump with an 8.41m leap in Germiston in March. Visser has battled with injury but seems to be coming back to his sharpness and the battle between the three will be a big highlight of the championships.
400m Hurdles men
This will be one of the most open competitions over the three days:
Lindsay Hanekom will be out to defend his title and has already gone under 50sec this season, with his 49.64 seconds win in Mangaung on April 13.
Cornel Fredericks is now training in Mangaung with Tannie Ans Botha, coach of Wayde van Niekerk. Since the death of his former coach, Bruce Longden, weeks before the 2012 Olympics, the multiple SA champion has struggled to find a coach that suits him. A fit and motivated Fredericks is a dangerous contender, his 2014 Africa Championships, Commonwealth Games and Continental Cup titles, are proof of how good he is.
Sokwakhana "Socks" Zazini is still only 18-years-old, but is already a double world champion, winning the U17 title in 2017 and the U18 title in 2018. How he fares against his more senior counterparts will be telling. Either way, the men's 400m hurdles will once again be an event that delivers fireworks.
400m hurdles women
Wenda Nel and the young Zeney van der Walt are the two big names here. Van der Walt skipped her favourite event, the 400m hurdles at the SA Junior Championships in March in preference of the 400m flat where she ran a PB of 53.74 seconds (since improved to 53.34 seconds).
A world U18 and U20 Champion, Van der Walt will have her work cut out for her though as Nel is still the out and out favourite to win the title.
Nel is a two time African Champion and boasts a best of 54.37 seconds run in Beijing at the World Championships in 2015 where she finished 7th.