THE CREAM of South African track and field will invade Port Elizabeth for the first leg of the 2010 Yellow Pages series at the Nelson Mandela University of Technology on Friday night.
This will mark the start of the local season under Ray Mali after the suspension of all of Athletics SA.
ASA was suspended by the South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee over its handling of the Caster Semenya gender debacle.
Some of the big names in the men's category heading for Port Elizabeth include Samson Ngoepe, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, Ruben Ramolefi and jumper Khotso Mokoena.
Top women athletes will include the Phulula twins Lebo and Lebohang, Elizna Naude and Janice Josephs.
Mulaudzi and Mokoena will use the series to sharpen up for the 2010 World Indoor Games in Doha, Qatar, next month.
ASA interim board member, Hendrick Ramaala said they were expecting improved times with the sponsors having announced a R500000 incentive.
"We expect some great performances because there are mouth-watering incentives for our athletes.
"In the past, our athletes used to get peanuts but Male and Female Athlete of the Meeting will get R15000 each and R30000 at the senior championships.
"We will also see the Male and Female Athlete of the Series getting R100000 apiece, which will definitely help in improving the standard of athletics."
Ramaala said the series will also provide a golden platform for local athletes to prepare for the African Senior Championships and Commonwealth Games in Kenya and India in July and October, respectively.
"The series will provide exciting entertainment for our supporters because the athletes will use the events to qualify for various competitions, including in Kenya and India."