Sth African CWG Form

Hopes running high for S. African athletes at Commonwealth Games

South Africa will send a contingent of 248 athletes to this month’s Melbourne Commonwealth Games and aim to better the haul of 46 medals they achieved at the last edition of this competition in Manchester, England in 2002.

Moss Mashishi, South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee president, said that track and field contributed eight medals for South Africa at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and judging by the form shown by the athletes over the past few weeks, athletics should be a major source for medals.

“SA’s track and field stars have the reputation of having never-say-die attitudes, and along with their skill and discipline, should play a major role in delivering medals for their country during our mission in Melbourne,” said Mashishi.

Commonwealth Games 800 metees champion and national athletics team captain Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, with a 2006 best time of 1:46,77, will join Commonwealth Games shot put bronze medalist Janus Robberts (2006 best of 21,06m), Cape Town-based high jumper Ramsay Carelse (2006 best of 2,25m) and long jump and triple jump sensation Khotso Mokoena (season best of 7,93m in the long jump), at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Moscow, Russia, from March 10-12, before flying to Melbourne.

Pretoria’s unsung hero, javelin thrower Hardus Pienaar, is the talk of local athletics after his effort of 82,56m in Oudtshoorn at the weekend placed him among the top three javelin athletes in the Commonwealth this year and his form has been heralded as great news for Team SA as the countdown to Melbourne reaches a crucial stage.

Added to the talents of Commonwealth are hammer throw record-holder Chris Harmse (85,16m) and the 400m hurdles trio of LJ van Zyl (48,58 best in 2006), Pieter de Villiers (48,74 best this year) and Alwyn Myburgh (48,82 season best), and little wonder that those involved with Team SA are excited about a successful campaign.

Ruben Ramolefi has probably the toughest task out of all when he lines up against the Kenyan power in the 3 000m steeplechase, but expect the tough running, no-nonsense South African with a season best of 8:21,28 to hang in with the best of them.

Former Namibian sprint star Sherwin Vries (season best of 10,27 secs in the100m) will be looking to deliver the goods when he joins Snyman Prinsloo (2006 best of 10,37 secs), KwaZulu Natal speedster Lee-Roy Newton (2006 best of 10,44 secs) and Leigh Julius (100m best of 10,51 secs in 2006) in the 4 x 100m relay showdown, while Geraldine Pillay’s fifth placed 100m and 200m Commonwealth ranking, with times of 11,51 secs and 23,28 secs, will certainly have her opponents plotting battle plans for the women’s sprints.

Source: Xinhua