Here are 10 South African athletes to watch in the 2014 campaign:
Akani Simbine: While Simon Magakwe has made a historic breakthrough in the flagship 100m event, Simbine, who is seven years Magakwe’s junior, is a prodigious talent. After missing most of last year’s season due to injuries, he will be confident of chopping a chunk off Magakwe’s new national record when he faces the big guns.
Anaso Jobodwana: If Simbine is the man to watch in the shortest sprint, Jobodwana has shown even more potential in the 200m event. The World Student Games champion over both distances is also more than useful in the 100m and will be a key component to the nation’s relay team at the Commonwealth Games.
Wayde van Niekerk: Having shown consistent progress in the senior ranks, Van Niekerk will be eager to make an international breakthrough in the 400m. He became only the sixth South African to dip under 45 seconds at the national championships in Pretoria last month and has the raw leg speed to shine at the highest level in the one-lap event.
Andre Olivier: The latest in a long line of world-class SA 800m runners, Olivier has tremendous big-match temperament. He will be confident of clocking fast times this season to prove he has more to offer than his wily tactical nous.
Johan Cronje: As the country’s top performer in any discipline last season, Cronje has made huge strides in the 1 500m event after struggling with injuries for much of his career. His indoor season was cut short – again by injury – and the stocky Free State athlete wants to shine again in the outdoor campaign.
Khotso Mokoena: Having achieved more than any other South African field athlete since re-admission, Mokoena has gone back to his roots as he focuses on the triple jump discipline for the first time in seven years. As a former world junior champion in the hop, skip and jump, he will be keen to once again display his tremendous versatility.
Zarck Visser: Mokoena’s successor in the long jump, Visser, has confirmed his immense potential but has struggled at recent international championships. He will look to learn enough from his illustrious training partner to make the step up and reach the podium at the Commonwealth Games.
Orazio Cremona: After a superb start to the season, Cremona is in line for a great outdoor campaign. He was seventh at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot in March and has already drawn level with Burger Lam-brechts as the second best shot putter in SA history.
Caster Semenya: As the most decorated SA athlete in recent years, Semenya has earned me-dals at the last three major global championship events but has struggled to match the raw speed she displayed as a junior. She will do well to return to her hard, front-running approach in an effort to close the gap on her five-year-old national 800m record.
Sunette Viljoen: A former World Championship bronze medallist, Viljoen narrowly missed out on medals at the London Olympics and last year’s glo-bal showpiece in Moscow. She will hope to make up for those disappointments with a third straight Commonwealth javelin title.