A 20-strong South African contingent dominates 'Team Africa' selected for next month's IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Following their stellar performances at the recent African Athletics Championships in Nigeria, Caster Semenya (who will run in the 400m, 800m and 4x400m relay), Akani Simbine and Ruswahl Samaai are sure to be among the continent's major medal contenders during the games which will take place on 8-9 September.
As it happens, 400m hurdles star Cornel Fredericks (who had to settle for continental silver at Asaba 2018) is the only South African with the chance of defend a title at the games. He is one of only three SA athletes to have won individual Continental Cup titles -- Hestre Cloete (high jump, 2006) and Okkert Brits (pole vault, 2006) being the others.
Fredericks apart, veteran horizontal jumper Khotso Mokoena is the only other South African medallist from Marrakech 2014 (where he won triple jump silver) who will also head to Ostrava. Wayde van Niekerk (4x400m gold) is yet to return from his knee injury; Sunette Viljoen (javelin throw silver) skipped the African champs to rest her troublesome back while Zarck Visser (long jump bronze) wasn't picked for the continental championships.
This year's IAAF Continental Cup -- which pits teams from Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia-Pacific against each other -- will be the fourth since it was first hosted in Johannesburg in 1998 as the successor to the IAAF World Cup.
Each team is allowed to enter two athletes per individual event (but limited to one from any one country), and a team for each relay. The winners of their respective individual events at Asaba 2018 booked their places which is how the likes of Ischke Senekal (shot put), Ncincilili Titi (200m), Antonio Alkana (110m hurdlies) and Victor Hogan (discus throw) sealed their places among the 77 athletes named by the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA).
That criteria is also why there is no place for world long jump champion Luvo Manyonga, who finished second to compatriot Ruswahl Samaai at the African champs and why Senekal will also compete in the discus throw competition despite only picking up bronze in Asaba.
SA's relay quartet of Simbine, Emile Erasmus, Simon Magakwe and Henricho Bruintjies will represent the continent in the 4x100m, after winning the African title in 38.25 seconds, just 0.01sec short of the national record set at this year's Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Titi has also been included in the 4x100 relay squad (to cover for injury) while 400m sprinter Thapelo Phora will also be the 'travelling reserve' for Kenya's 4x400m relay team who won the continental title.
South African contingent:
Women: Zinzi Chabangu (triple jump), Caster Semenya (400m, 800m, 4x400m), Ischke Senekal (shot put, discus throw), Rikenette Steenkamp (100m hurdles), Jo-Ane van Dyk (javelin throw)
Men: Antonio Alkana (110m hurdles), Henricho Bruintjies (4x100m), Emile Erasmus (4x100m), Cornel Fredericks (400m hurdles), Victor Hogan (discus throw), Simon Magakwe (4x100m), Tshepang Makhethe (hammer throw); Khotso Mokoena (triple jump), Chris Moleya (high jump), Thapelo Phora (400m, 4x400m), Ruswahl Samaai (long jump), Akani Simbine (100m, 4x100m), Ncincilili Titi (200m, 4x100m), Phil-Mar van Rensburg (javelin throw), Valco van Wyk (pole vault)