stiff test for SA athletes

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

A horde of African and overseas athletes will invade Germiston, Ekurhuleni today to compete in the last stage of the Yellow Pages Series.

The meeting, which will also attract the cream of local athletics, is billed for Germiston Stadium, starting at 5pm.

Molatelo Malehopo, Athletics South Africa's acting general manager, confirmed yesterday that top athletes from outside the country will be competing .

"There will be athletes from Mauritius, Germany and Saudi Arabia taking part," he said.

"The Mauritians and Arabians will battle it out with our athletes in the track events, while Germany will be represented by their top hammer throwers, who are currently in a training camp in South Africa.

"All these athletes will provide stiff opposition for our athletes. But I strongly believe that we will able to compete against them.

"It is good for us to compete against international opponents early in the season to prepare enough for the year ahead."

The Mauritian group in the men's sprints includes world-class athletes such as Stephan Buckland and Eric Milazar.

The Saudi team is coached by South African Hennie Kotze.

South Africa's Olympic silver medallist Khotso Mokoena will have his work cut out for him against one of the continent's best long jumpers, Senegalese Ndiss Kaba Badji.

Badji, with a career best distance of 8,20m, finished sixth at the Beijing Olympics with a distance of 8,16m and he will provide Mokoena, who has already jumped 8,15m this year, with much needed competition.

Mbulaeni Mulaudzi will participate in his specialist 800m event, after successful outings in the 1500m in the past legs of the series.

Other top male performers include Ofenste Mogawane in the 400m, Janus Robberts in shot put, Hannes Hopley in discus and Shaun Bownes in the 110m hurdles.

Tsholofelo Thipe and Isabel le Roux will star in the women's sprints, while Janet Wienand and Malaysian Noraseela Khalid will fight it out in the 400m hurdles. Elizna Naude is a favourite in the women's discus, Sunette Viljoen in javelin and Janice Josephs in long jump.

Mokoena, Viljoen, Josephs and steeplechaser Ruben Ramolefi have used the early legs of the series to qualify for the IAAF World Championships in Berlin in August. Others will be hoping to qualify today.