Juniors out to raise bar

SOUTH Africa's 22-strong team will look to at least match the nation's standing in the medals table two years back when they kick off their campaign at the World Junior Athletics Championships in Moncton, Canada, today.

Having placed 21st in Bydgoszcz, Poland in 2008, tied with Croatia, with one silver and two bronze medals, the team will be confident of bagging a few medals again at the biennial event.

South Africans are led by long jump sensation Luvo Manyonga and former world youth javelin champion Tazmin Brits.

Manyonga, 19, has been in superb form, improving the national and continental junior marks with an 8,19m leap in Bottrop, Germany, on July 9.

In the same event, Stefan Brits will be keen to regain the form that brought him the bronze medal at the World Youth Championships in Bressanone, Italy, last year. Brits, 19, leaped a season's best 7,66m in Celle Ligure, Italy, earlier this month and the 18-year-old will look to spring a surprise in Moncton. Dean Goosen will fancy his chances in the men's javelin event while Rocco van Rooyen should also reach the final in the same event.

Jacques de Swardt lines up with an outside chance in the men's 400m sprint, though he might find himself out of his depth in an event featuring Grenada's Kirani James, the world youth 200m and 400m champion.

Swardt, 17, has clocked 46,08 in the 400m this season. Ranked sixth in the world, he will look to improve on his performance at last year's World Youth Championships, where he reached the semifinals.

The world junior showpiece started yesterday but South Africa had no representatives in action in the women's 3000m, the only event on the opening day.