Akani Simbine ready for Germiston

The Sizwe Medical Fund & 3SixtyLife ASA Senior Track & Field and Combined Events Championships have a history of delivering scintillating duels from the heydays of Hezekiel Sepeng, Hendrick Ramaala and Llewellyn Herbert in the late 90’s to the more recent match ups of Akani Simbine, Wayde van Niekerk and Clarence Munyai in the sprints, the regal and majestic striding of Caster Semenya and the tussle of the long jumpers, Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai.

The Championships is also expected to be the final time that South Africans will be able to witness these stars in action on home soil.  The current crop of athletes love to put on a show, so expect to be wooed.

Sepeng started his journey to stardom at the 1996 SA Championships in Cape Town when he won the national 800m and would go on that year to win the silver medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Three years later, in one of the closest finishes in an 800m, Sepeng was out dipped on the line by then world record holder, Wilson Kipketer.

“When I won that title in 1996, it set me on my international career. That is why the Sizwe Medical Fund & 3SixtyLife ASA Senior Track & Field and Combined Events Championships will always be important to me,” said Sepeng, who is now the ASA High Performance Manager.

“The National Championships are important, not only as a statement of intent by our athletes about their goals for Doha, but also because this is where we show the country how strong South Africa is as an athletics nation. And this is also where the next generation gets to compete against our current stars, which will hopefully inspire them to great things.”

In 1997 Marius Corbett was crowned World Javelin champion. He secured his selection to the team at the National Championships where he won his first national title. Corbett would go on to win the world title in 1997 and Commonwealth title in 1998.

Semenya shot to fame after securing her place on the team that went to the African Championships and then the World Championships in 2009 after winning the national title. This was also the year that Semenya won her first world title.

Van Niekerk won his first national 400m title in 2013 and showed glimpses of the incredible talent he was to become by going on to win the world student title that year. In 2015 he became world champion and a year later Olympic champion and World record holder.

Simbine won his first national 100m title in 2015, a year later, he would make history and finish 5th in the Olympic 100m final.

Few will forget the first time they saw Manyonga put his incredible leaping talents on display. A world junior champion in 2010, in 2016 Manyonga brought home the silver medal from the Olympic Games in Rio. 

The examples of South Africa’s best athletes starting their careers at the national championships are endless and with the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha the big target for the athletes, the

2019 Sizwe Medical Fund & 3SixtyLife ASA Senior Track & Field and Combined Events Championships 25 – 27 April will take on significant weight as this will be an important part of their team selection.

“All athletes who want to compete at the IAAF World Championships in Doha this year have to compete at the National Championships. It is part of the selection policy of ASA,” reiterated Athletics South Africa President, Aleck Skhosana.

Image (SA’s darling Akani Simbine, will be the draw card at the championship event in Germiston from April 25 to 27).

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