Six SA stars in Day 1 action
Anaso Jobodwana (Getty Images)
Cape Town - If Anaso Jobodwana achieves his ambition of running under 10 seconds in the men's 100m, he will become the first South African to do so and it could see him through to the final of the IAAF World Championships, which get underway in Moscow, Russia on Saturday.
"I'm pretty sure that if I keep on working and correct the flaws I have, then I can probably get down to under ten seconds at this moment," Jobodwana said on the eve of the championships.
The 20-year-old received a massive confidence booster when he clocked 10:10 in the World Student Games in Kazan, Russia, in July.
Over the past six championships, times faster than 10.04 had earned a place in the blue ribbon final. Five other South Africans will compete on the first day of the championships, with Akani Simbine, something of a shadow to Jobodwana in the 100m heats (18:15 SA time).
The 19-year-old stunned the athletics community when he hacked over 0.35 seconds off his personal best in the Zone 6 Games last December to stop the clock 10.19.
Willem Coetzen will be the first South African out the blocks on Saturday, in his first event of the decathlon, which will start with the 100m at 07:35 SA time.
Over the next two days, Coetzen will be out to improve on his ninth place in the London Olympics but he will need to be close to, or better than, his national record of 8 244 points which he amassed in the 2012 SA Championships.
Andre Olivier will compete in the third of six heats in the first round of the 800m (09:20 SA time) where his main foe will be American Duane Solomon, the current world leader on 1:43.27.
With three to qualify along with the six fastest losers from six heats, Olivier's progression to Sunday night's semi-finals should be a formality.
The 23-year-old will have his sights on a final in a year where world record holder and Olympic champion David Rudisha was missing, leaving no clear heir to the throne.
With a personal best of 1:44.27 and solid build up to the championships Olivier could pull something out of the bag, but anything better than a semi-final will be a bonus.
Although he had had things more or less his own way in South Africa, Stephen Mokoka will have a fight on his hands in the 10 000m (16:55 SA time).
Competing against Somali-born British athlete Mo Farah, as well as the Kenyan and Ethiopian challengers, the predicted 30-degree heat and thundershowers will ensure Mokoka had his work cut out for him.
Even though Tanith Maxwell will be outside the cauldron of the stadium, the marathoners were questioning the organisers' logic of starting their race at noon (SA time).
The race is guaranteed to be a game of tactical survival and Maxwell's hopes of going sub two hours, 30 minutes will rest on early rain to break the heat and humidity of the past days.
The big man of South African athletics, Chris Harmse, will notch up his fifth outing at world championships since his debut in Seville in 1999.
He will attempt to make the 77m qualifying mark in the evening session of hammer throw (15:05 SA time).
Working off a season's best of 72.40m, it is a task which might be a throw too far for the 40-year-old African champion.