One of the most intriguing but controversial athletics events, race-walking, will see Athletics South Africa (ASA) send a team of nine athletes to the World Athletics Race Walking Championships in Muscat, Oman in the Middle East.
The fact that many athletes have faced disciplinary action and banning orders for cheating at the SA championships and at international events like the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games and even the Africa Games, makes race-walking contentious.
On the opening day on Friday, junior athletes Janise Nell (Athletics Central North West) and Christiaan Bester (Boland Athletics) will compete in the U-10km women’s and men’s races, and 20-year-old Marissa Swanepoel (Athletics Central North West) will turn out in the senior women’s 20km event in the afternoon.
ASA announced that Saturday’s competition will be spearheaded by in-form athlete Wayne Snyman, who will be eager to use his experience to make his presence. His Athletics Gauteng North teammates Tumisang Pule and Sizwe Ndebele will be hoping to add enough depth to push them up to the front in the men’s 20km team competition.
“We have selected the team according to performance and we trust in them to make us proud as a federation and as a country. It is encouraging to learn that they travelled safely and that the whole camp is in good spirits,” said ASA president James Moloi.
“We would have been happier if we had walkers representing us in the 35km, but since we had no athletes in this category, we hope that this would be a challenge for all of us to address. Nevertheless, their mandate is the same, and that is to contest for medals in all categories.”
The team is managed by coach Chriz Britz. Nthatisi Mokhele is the team manager.
South Africans’ schedule in SA times
Friday: 6am – 10km, U-20 women (Janise Nell)
7.10am – 10km, U-20 men (Christiaan Bester)
2pm – 20km, women (Marissa Swanepoel)
Saturday: 5am – 35km, men and women
2pm – 20km, men (Wayne Snyman, Tumisang Pule, Sizwe Ndebele)
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