World record holder Wayde van Niekerk is expected to take another step forward on the comeback trail, while Olympic champion Caster Semenya will again showcase her tremendous versatility at the three-day Sizwe Medical Fund and 3SixtyLife ASA Senior Track and Field Championships starting in Germiston on Thursday.
Van Niekerk returned to the track to win the men’s 400m final at the Free State provincial championships in Bloemfontein in February, clocking 47.28 seconds as he eased his way back into competition after recovering from a long-term knee injury.
And while he was not expected to hit top form until later this year on the international circuit, he was due to test his legs once more at the national championships after being included in the entry lists released on Wednesday.
Semenya, meanwhile, had entered the women’s 400m, 800m and 1 500m events, and with Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) boasting a strong 4x400m relay team, she was expected to target four gold medals.
In other disciplines, distance runners were likely to take a back seat with the event being held at altitude, and sprinters and field event athletes were expected to steal the show.
After concentrating on the 100m event most of last season, Akani Simbine was set to focus on the 200m event where he was up against the likes of SA record holder Clarence Munyai and defending champion Luxolo Adams.
In the absence of Simbine, experienced campaigner Simon Magakwe was targeting his eighth national 100m title, with his strongest challenge expected to come from powerhouse speedster Emile Erasmus.
African champion Ruswahl Samaai was missing from the entry lists, but world champion Luvo Manyonga could be in for a tussle against in-form athlete Zarck Visser in the men’s long jump.
And on the infield, Chris Harmse was aiming to extend his record, with the 45-year-old veteran going in search of his 23rd straight SA title in the men’s hammer throw