Athletics South Africa President, James Moloi is confident that Team South Africa will win at least six medals and will also rank in the top five at the World Athletics Championships starting in Oregon in the US on Friday. More than 40 athletes have been selected to represent South Africa in track and field including former Olympic Games and World Champions Caster Semenya and Wayde van Niekerk.
South Africa did not win a medal in the last two major international events, the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan. But they won an impressive six medals and ranked third overall at the London World Championships in 2017.
“I am expecting plus minus six medals because it’s world champs not African champs. If we reach plus minus ten it will be a bonus because it’s going to be a tough competition, but in terms of rankings we can be in top five – I can confirm that one on my side,” says James Moloi, Athletics SA President.
Included in the team is former 800 metres Olympic Games and World Champion, Caster Semenya. She will be taking part in the 5 000 metres event. She might not be expected to win a medal but her presence will inspire her teammates.
“For her to be there, it motivates some of these youngsters besides winning, even if she doesn’t win but for her to be there is sort of like an intimidation for other countries,” Moloi added.
Another former Olympic Games and world champion, Wayde van Niekerk is also in the team. He lacks race fitness and has not completed a full individual race this year. But the world record holder might thrive with less pressure.
“He has got no pressure at all because he is going to defend his 400 metres and nobody expects him to come back again,” Moloi explains.
The current 100 metres Commonwealth Games Champion, Akani Simbine is a medal prospect in Oregon.
“In March, he started very slowly when he competed in Germiston two weeks back, he won the diamond league 100 metres, you can see that he is peaking at the right time,” Moloi reiterates.
Meanwhile, the 18th edition of the World Championships will be the first time the event is held in the United States.
One of the great anomalies of athletics is that the US has been its dominant superpower for more than a century. But it has never really taken the sport to its heart in terms of live attendances, TV audiences or media coverage.
Thousands of tickets are still available for the event at the rebuilt Hayward Field stadium in Eugenie, Oregon.