12 August 2015
Benefiting from the extended qualifying deadline offered by Athletics South Africa (ASA), Caster Semenya has been included in the 31-member squad for the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Beijing, to be held from 22 to 30 August.
Semenya made a last-gasp attempt to meet the qualifying standard in the 800m, posting 2:00.72 to book her place for the championships at a meeting in Linz, Austria at the end of July. Discus thrower Victor Hogan, who finished a creditable fifth in the previous championships in Moscow, was also a late addition to the squad.
ASA has selected a strong squad for the global showpiece, which includes 14 athletes who are national record-holders in their respective events.
Five of the athletes rank among the top eight in the world this season. Women’s javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen boasts the leading heave this year with the 66.62m throw she launched in Melbourne in March.
Sprinting sensation Wayde van Niekerk, who became the first African to break through the 44-second barrier in the 400m, will go into the championships with the third fastest time this year. The one-lap sprinter also posted the sixth fastest 200m time this year with his national record of 19.94.
He will, however, only focus on the 400m with London Olympics finalist Anaso Jobodwana flying South Africa’s flag in the half-lap sprint. His 20.04 is ranked the 12th fastest this year.
London Olympics decathlete Willem Coertzen’s latest South African record of 8 398 points in the combined events is the sixth best in the world this season.
Local long jump record holder Khotso Mokoena will be accompanied by rising stars Zarck Visser and Ruswahl Samaai. Visser, the Commonwealth Games silver medallist, is the number-two ranked long jumper this season with his personal best leap of 8.41m; Ruswahl Samaai’s 8.38m jump in the nationals in April is the fourth best this year.
Team South Africa includes five former world championships medallists with Semenya, Mokoena, Johan Cronje, Viljoen and LJ van Zyl named in the squad.
Cronje was the only South Africa who stepped on to the podium in the previous edition in Moscow, bagging a bronze medal run in the 1 500m.
Joint-national record holders in the men’s 100m, Henricho Bruintjies and Akani Simbine, will be running in the short sprint, while the former will also be participating in the 200m.
Only six women qualified for the championships, with Viljoen, Semenya, Carina Horn (100m), Justine Palframan (200m/400m), Wenda Nel (400m hurdles) and Tanith Maxwell (marathon) joining the 25 men on the flight to Beijing.
South African squad
Henricho Bruintjies (100m), Akani Simbine (100m/200m), Anaso Jobodwana (100m/200m), Wayde van Niekerk (400m), Berend Koekemoer (400m), Rynardt van Rensburg (800m), Johan Cronje (1 500m), Stephen Mokoka (10 000m), Antonio Alkana (110m hurdles), LJ van Zyl (400m hurdles), Cornel Fredericks (400m hurdles), Zarck Visser (long jump), Ruswahl Samaai (long jump), Khotso Mokoena (long jump/triple jump), Orazio Cremona (shot put), Jaco Engelbrecht (shot put), Victor Hogan (discus throw), Rocco van Rooyen (javelin throw), Willem Coertzen (decathlon), Lebogang Shange (20km walk), Marc Mundell (50km walk), Benedict Moeng (marathon), Desmond Mokgobu (marathon), Lucas Jani (marathon), Sibusiso Nzima (marathon)
Carina Horn (100m), Justine Palframan (200m/400m), Caster Semenya (800m), Wenda Nel (400m hurdles), Sunette Viljoen (javelin throw), Tanith Maxwell (marathon)