Johannesburg - Athletics SA (ASA) president Aleck Skhosana believes his organisation has chosen the “best of the best” to represent the country at the IAAF Athletics World Cup in London next month.
“We are confident that the team we have chosen will hoist the South African flag high,” he told City Press.
“There is no way this team can finish at the bottom of the eight nations taking part in this event.”
ASA announced a star-studded team this week, which consists of elite athletes Caster Semenya, Akani Simbine and Luvo Manyonga, among other high-quality athletes in a balanced 29-member team.
These athletes will go up against their counterparts from seven nations, who were selected based on their performances at last year’s World Athletics Championships.
“You will remember that [South Africa] finished third after the US and Kenya at the championships last year,” Skhosana said.
“However, Kenya is not in the top eight because they only dominated in middle distances, while we won medals right across the spectrum.”
Among those spearheading the South African attack will be the golden athletes of this era Semenya, Simbine, Manyonga, Justine Palframan and Henricho Bruintjies.
This week, Simbine raced to a second-place finish in the 100m at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Ostrava, Czech Republic, in a time of 10.13 seconds.
He was pipped to the finish line by world champion Justin Gatlin of the US, who ran the race in 10.03 seconds.
Third place went to Gatlin’s compatriot Mike Rodgers in a time of 10.15 seconds. Rodgers is so far this season’s second fastest sprinter, having clocked a time of 9.92 seconds in Prague last week.
Semenya has gone unbeaten for more than a year now and already has three IAAF Diamond League gold medals in her favourite race – the 800m – which means she is on course for the overall title at the end of the season.
The Athletics World Cup will take place in London on July 14 and 15.
The South African team includes six of the seven athletes who earned track and field medals at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, earlier this year.
“This is our team of warriors, most of whom are tried and tested. We believe that these are athletes with high potential to bring this country the glory we seek,” Skhosana said.
“The World Cup will give us an opportunity to gauge how far our push towards being the best in the world is. We wish every athlete, and the management and support staff the best in their search for personal and international glory.”
The two relay teams each have five athletes, one of whom in each will be a reserve runner.