About 3,500 athletes and officials expected at Tuks showpiece

SA Senior Track and Field Championships kicks off this week

13 April 2021 - 08:57
By Charles Baloyi
Caster Semenya during the Athletics Gauteng North Championship at University Of Pretoria Tuks Stadium on March 27, 2021 in Pretoria.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images Caster Semenya during the Athletics Gauteng North Championship at University Of Pretoria Tuks Stadium on March 27, 2021 in Pretoria.

The cream of the crop in SA athletics will gather at the University of Pretoria's Tuks Bestmed Stadium for the SA Senior Track and Field Championships starting on Thursday and ending on Saturday.

Host province Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) president Hendrick Mokganyetsi said it's all systems go and that they are ready to host about 3,500 athletes and officials at the university.

Precious Mashele, Gladwin Mzazi, Gift Leotlela, Clarence Munyai, Ryan Mphahlele, Zinzi Xulu, Mapaseka Makhanya, Caster Semenya and Thapelo Phora are some of the athletes that are still hoping to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan in July.

Due to the ongoing battle with World Athletics over her right to compete in the 800m, Semenya will attempt to qualify for the Games in the 5,000m and will compete against the likes of Glenrose Xaba, the Phalula twins Lebo and Lebogang and Cornelia Joubert. Big names such as Akani Simbine, Wayde van Niekerk and Ruswahl Samaai will use the event to gauge their readiness for the Games as they have already qualified.

Marathon sensation Stephen Mokoka has qualified for the Games but will use the men's 5,000m and 10,000m as part of his preparations. Only 500 athletes will be allowed into the venue at a time and athletes will leave the stadium after their events. There will be no food and showering at the stadium due to the Covid-19 regulations.

“I am hoping to seal my qualification at the SA Champs. I have been working hard to be in great shape for this event,” said Xulu.

Thando Roto, who is also chasing his qualification in the men's 100m and 200m, said he would do his best at the university where he is based. “I have not given up on my dream to qualify for the Olympics,” said Roto.

Leotlela has also been vocal on social media about his chances of qualifying for the Games at the SA Champs. “We are ready to host the best SA Championships during an Olympic year,” added Mokganyetsi.