Wayde van Niekerk earlier this week at the Adidas Fan Zone in London – photo credit: roger sedges


In-Site athletes will be eager to carry the South African team as they spearhead the national charge at the IAAF World Championships which starts in London tonight.
Long jumper Ruswahl Samaai and sprinter Akani Simbine (100m) will get things going in the opening session of the 10-day spectacle when they compete in the opening rounds of their events.
Versatile sprinter Wayde van Niekerk will open his campaign in the men’s 400m heats in the morning session on Saturday, and Caster Semenya turns out in the first round of the women’s 1 500m event in the evening session.
On Sunday, Antonio Alkana lines up in the men’s 110m hurdles heats and Lydia Jele will be one of three athletes representing Botswana in the opening round of the women’s 400m event.
World Student Games 400m champion Justine Palframan lines up in the women’s 200m heats on day five, and Gena Lofstrand will compete in the first round of the women’s 800m on day seven.
Van Niekerk (200m/400m), Simbine (100m/200m) and Semenya (800m/1 500m) will all compete in two individual events, while Semenya, Palframan and Lofstrand are in the entry lists for the 4x400m relay.
“I feel like I’m currently in the best shape I can be for this season, and I believe I can do great things, but obviously it’s a new challenge, a new year, a new competition, and I think we’re just going to have to take it round by round,” Van Niekerk, the 400m world record holder, said at an Adidas press conference ahead of the showpiece.
“We really can’t rush into it and we just have to take it step by step, but I’m in good shape and the coach (Ans Botha) is confident of where I am at the moment, and if she’s happy then I’m happy.”
Peet van Zyl of In-Site Athlete Management wished all the athletes well at the biennial global championships.
“Good luck to every athlete who will compete in London, on one of the biggest stages of international athletics,” Van Zyl said.
“Just to qualify to compete at this level is a tremendous achievement, and knowing we have a number of athletes who are targeting medals makes it even more exciting. We are expecting a spectacular show.”