Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
1 Aug 2017
3:30 pm

South Africa’s medal contenders: the dark horses

Wesley Botton

2017's World Championships start on Friday in London and South Africa has a real shot of earning a record medal tally.

Antonio Alkana has been in excellent form in 2017 and, with an extra push, could be a medal contender in London. Photo: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images.

South Africa has never earned more than four medals at the IAAF World Championships but the 16th edition starting in London on Friday could be a turning point at international level.

While the most prominent medal candidates are arguably a band of world-class sprinters, there are a few in other events who could also spring a surprise.

In the first of a two-part series, we assess South Africa’s dark horses in the English capital.

ANTONIO ALKANA

Event: 110m hurdles
Personal best: 13.11
2017 ranking: 7th (13.11)
Medal chance: 2/10

A breakthrough season has evolved into a higher level of consistency for Alkana but he needs to find that extra gear again if he wants to put up a fight. He has it in him, and he has been in great form, but he may need more experience at this level before he becomes a major threat.

VICTOR HOGAN

Event: discus throw
Personal best: 65.33m
Ranking: 32nd (64.18m)
Medal chance: 2/10

After some time on the sidelines after one of his supplements was apparently contaminated with a banned substance, Hogan has had an impressive comeback in recent weeks. Despite his lowly ranking, he could have a massive throw lurking in his arm, and one big heave is all it takes.

ZARCK VISSER

Event: long jump
Personal best: 8.41m
2017 ranking: 17th (8.22m)
Medal chance: 2/10

Though he has not displayed the form of his compatriots this year, Visser has enough experience to create a threat. It’s a long shot, but spearheaded by Manyonga and Samaai, this could be South Africa’s best ever opportunity to sweep the podium in any discipline.

WENDA NEL

Event: 400m hurdles
Personal best: 54.37
2017 ranking: 18th (54.58)
Medal chance: 1/10

While she has not found her best form on the global circuit this season, Nel is one of the most experienced athletes in the team and she has displayed glimpses of the form which carried her to the final in Beijing two years ago.

LUSAPHO APRIL 

Event: marathon
Personal best: 2:08:32
Medal chance: 1/10
Ranking: 173rd (2:11:41)

A three-time winner of the Hannover Marathon, April has been inconsistent in recent years, but he too brings a wealth of experience. His ranking is also misleading, with 93 Kenyans and 36 Ethiopians listed ahead of him and each country limited to three participants.

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