Top SA athletes for African Champs

31 May 2012

A strong 75-member team has been selected to represent South Africa at the African Athletics Championships in Porto Novo, Benin from 27 June to 1 July. It includes some of the country's leading Olympic medal hopes.

Caster Semenya, the 2009 world champion and 2011 silver medallist in the 800 metres, has already qualified for London 2012, but she needs to compete in the Championships to satisfy criteria set by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc).

On 5 April, Semenya recorded a time of 1:59.60 in Pretoria, her season's best, which was also the first sub-two minute 800 metres run in the country since 1991 when Zelda Pretorius ran 1:58.85.

Just 21 years of age, Semenya has previously represented South Africa at one African Championship, as a junior athlete in Bambous, Mauritius in 2009. Later that year she clocked an stunning 1:55.45 to capture the World Championship title in Berlin.

First Olympic qualifier

World Championship 400m hurdles bronze medallist LJ van Zyl is also in the South African team. The 26-year-old from Gauteng North became the first track and field athlete to qualify for the Olympic Games on 5 April.

He will be aiming for a fourth straight African title after previously winning in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Beijing Olympic silver medallist Khotso Mokoena will be defending his title in the long jump.

After losing his national title in windy conditions in Port Elizabeth, Mokoena bounced back and reached the Olympic Qualifying A-standard at the Yellow Pages III meeting in Pretoria on 20 April with a leap of 8.29m.

He recently competed in the Diamond League meeting in Doha on 11 May and finished second with a best jump of 8.10m.

Javelin star

Sunette Viljoen will be competing in the javelin. She currently holds the African and South African record and has also qualified for the Olympic Games.

It will be the fifth time the 29-year-old takes part in the African Championships. She sports an excellent track record of winning gold medals in 2004, 2008 and 2010, and the silver medal in 2006.

In September 2011, she won bronze in Daegu at the World Championships with a career best throw of 68.38m. Her best this season is 61.84m in Ostrava on 25 May.

MEN

Simon Magakwe (100m, 200m), Roscoe Engel (100m), Hannes Dreyer (100m), Anaso Jobodwana (200m), Thuso Mpuang ( 200m), Lebogang Moeng (400m), Oscar Pistorius (400m), Ofentse Mogawane (400m), Andre Olivier (800m), Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (800m), Rynhardt van Rensburg (800m), Johan Cronje (1 500m), Juan van Deventer (1 500m), Peter van der Westhuizen (1 500m), Gladwin Mzazi (5 000m), Elroy Gelant (5 000m), Stephen Mokoka (10 000m), Ruben Ramolefi (3 000m steeplechase), Tumelo Motlagale (3 000m steeplechase), Junior Mkhatini (110m hurdles), Ruan de Vries (110m hurdles), Lehann Fourie (110m hurdles), PC Beneke (400m hurdles), LJ van Zyl (400m hurdles), Eben Beukes (pole vault), Heinrich Smit (pole vault), Ruan van Wyk (pole vault), Ruan Claasen (high jump), Hubert de Beer (high jump), Khotso Mokoena (long jump), Zarck Visser (long jump), Thumelo Thagane (triple jump), Burger Lambrechts (shot put), Orazio Cremona (shot put), Jaco Engelbrecht (shot put), Victor Hogan (discus), Russel Tucker (discus), Donovan Snyman (discus), Chris Harmse (hammer), Jason Henning (javelin), Robert Oosthuizen (javelin), Bernard Crause (javelin), Zavion Kotze (decathlon), Willem Coertzen (decathlon), Nardus Greyling (decathlon), Marc Mundell (20km Walk), 4x100m, 4x400m

WOMEN

Tsholofelo Thipe (200m, 400m), Rorisang Ramonye (400m), Estie Wittstock (400m), Caster Semenya (800m), Mandie Brandt (800m), Mapaseka Makhanya (800m, 1500m), Lebogang Phalula (1 500m), Lebo Phalula (1 500m), Rene Kalmer (5 000m), Noleen Conrad (3 000m steeplechase), Claudia Viljoen (100m hurdles), Ansulet Potgieter (100m hurdles), Wenda Theron (400m hurdles), Janet Lawless (400m hurdles), Anneri Ebersohn (400m hurdles), Deone Joubert (pole vault), Jeannie van Dyk (pole vault), Juanita Stander (pole vault), Anika Smit (high jump), Bianca Erwee (high jump), Patience Ntshingila (long jump, triple jump), Janice Josephs (long jump), Lynique Prinsloo (long jump), Charlene Potgieter (triple jump), Sonia Smuts (shot put), Elizna Naude (discus), Maryke Oberholzer (discus), Annemie Smith (hammer), Sunette Viljoen (javelin), Gerlize de Klerk (javelin), 4x100m, 4x400m

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Caster Semenya on her way to winning the women's 800 metres at the 2009 IAAF Athletics World Championships in Berlin (Image: 12th IAAF World Championships)

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