As momentum builds towards the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the current national rankings provide an indication that the country’s top athletes are on target for a promising campaign at the multi-sport spectacle at the Gold Coast, Australia in April.
In a statement from Athletics South Africa (ASA) is was stated that the final South African team will depend largely on Commonwealth rankings based on SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) criteria, and athletes proving their fitness by early next year. With the domestic summer season already in full swing in the ASA provinces, giving athletes multiple chances to qualify for the Games preliminary team to be announced in January.
The statement states the 2017 ASA rankings offer a clear reflection that the national team is on track for a record charge. “… a look back at the 2017 season thus far offers interesting reading”.
While performances earlier this year may not count towards selection for Australia and with many athletes still fighting for places in the preliminary team, a total of 76 individuals (60 men and 16 women) performed better than the qualifying standards in the various track and field disciplines between January and September this year.
The strongest disciplines in terms of depth are the men’s sprints, distance running and throwing events.
A total of 15 men have run faster than the Commonwealth standards this year over sprint distances, with Wayde van Niekerk leading the way by achieving the required marks in the 100m, 200m and 400m events, while there are 16 middle and long distance runners who have dipped under the Games standards since January 2017 and 13 throwers who have surpassed the required marks.
The other men to have shown potential for a place in the final Games team this season include seven jumpers, five hurdlers, two decathletes and two race walkers.
Among the women, six sprinters have achieved the Commonwealth marks in their events in 2017, along with three distance runners on the track.
Caster Semenya has been the star performer this year and looks to have multiple options available to her in the race for the final team after meeting the required marks in the 400m, 800m and 1 500m events.
The rest of the SA women in the hunt, based on their performances this season, include three hurdlers, two throwers, one long jumper and a race walker.
South African men have displayed tremendous depth, with athletes performing better than the Games standard in 18 of 21 disciplines this season, while women have been able to achieve the Commonwealth standards in 12 disciplines.
Athletes will chase the qualifying marks at 15 more meetings around the country before the end of the year, in an attempt to be added to the 13-member preliminary team announced by Athletics SA last month, ahead of Sascoc’s team announcement for the Games.