Track poised for the IAAF World Champs in Moscow
Only medal-laden performances from Team SA at the upcoming IAAF World Championships will ease the gloom that has been hovering over Athletics South Africa (ASA) this year.
The 27-member team will leave this week for the global track-and-field meeting in Moscow, Russia, reeling from an administration impasse that has overshadowed their build-up in the past four months.
Worse, the team’s most recognisable face, Caster Semenya, failed to qualify, meaning SA will not challenge for any spot in the women’s middle-distance events.
The Olympic silver medallist did not compete locally this season and subsequently relinquished her title to 17-year-old Gena Lofstrand of KZN Athletics.
Semenya, who battled a knee injury, only turned out in three races in Finland a fortnight ago.
She won a gold medal in 2009 and silver in 2011 in her only two appearances at the championships.
But a crop of new athletes have picked up the baton and rising sprinter Anaso Jobodwana has emerged as Mzansi’s latest medal hope.
Jobodwana, who is one of Team SA’s newcomers at the World Champs, won a sprint double at the recent World Student Games in Russia.
Other serious medal contenders are javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen, long jumper Khotso Mokoena and possibly something out of the men’s 400m hurdles; while first-timer Zarck Visser might spring a surprise in the long jump.
Viljoen and Mokoena are both ranked inside the world’s top 10 in the latest IAAF rankings.
Other newcomers on the senior international stage include another rising sprinter Akani Simbine and track runner Wade van Niekerk, who boasts a 45.42 personal best.
The team also boasts the experience of Hendrick Ramaala, who at 41 is the oldest member of the squad.
He has been lying low following his suspension from the ASA board and will mark his return to big-time running in the marathon on August 17.
The Moscow showpiece will be his seventh World Champs since his debut in Sweden in 1995.
“I have been training well as I expected to make the team after I ran a qualifying time,” said Ramaala who revealed that his suspension from the ASA board affected his team membership and he was only informed of his inclusion in Team SA four weeks ago.
South Africa finished 17th on the medals table – out of the 41 nations that won medals– at the previous championships in Daegu, South Korea, where the team won four medals.
Missing in action
Yohan Blake (Jamaica)
» The defending 100m champion is struggling with a hamstring injury he picked up in April. Blake (23) also won gold in the 4x100m on his World Championships debut in Daegu, South Korea, in 2011.
Caster Semenya (South Africa)
» Semenya clinched gold in her maiden World Champs in 2009 and silver in 2011. The 22-year-old failed to meet the two-minute A standard qualifying time or the 2:01.50 B entry mark to reach this year’s championships.
David Rudisha (Kenya)
» The Olympic 800m champion and world record holder withdrew after failing to recover from a knee injury. Rudisha (24) won gold on his World Champs debut in South Korea in 2011.
Tyson Gay (US)
» Gay, who had qualified in the 100m and 200m, has been left out of the US team following a failed drug test in May. The 30-year-old won three gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the Osaka, Japan, 2007 champs as well as a 100m silver at the 2009 champs in Berlin, Germany.
Asafa Powell (Jamaica)
» The former 100m world record holder tested positive for a banned stimulant at the Jamaican trials in June. Powell (30) won gold (4x100m) and bronze (100m) in 2009 and silver (4x100m) and bronze (100m) at the 2007 World Championships.
Sherone Simpson (Jamaica)
» Three-time Olympic medallist Simpson (28) also tested positive for a banned stimulant at the Jamaican championships. She has two 4x100m silver medals from the 2005 and 2011 World Championships.
Tatyana Chernova (Russia)
» The 25-year-old defending heptathlon champion suffered a knee ligament injury during the Russian Championships last week.
Blanka Vlašic (Croatia)
»Vlašic (29), the two-time world high jump champion (2007 and 2009) and Daegu 2011 silver medallist, hasn’t recovered from an Achilles tendon surgery.
Individual prize money
1st – $60 000(R591 000)
2nd – $30 000
3rd – $20 000
4th – $15 000
5th – $10 000
6th – $6 000
7th – $5 000
8th – $4 000
» Any athlete who breaks a world record at the championships will get $100 000 – IAAF.org
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