By Salifu Usman
After their good show at the just-concluded Commonwealth Games, South Africa are aiming for more glory in athletics.
Athletics South Africa have unveiled an ambitious 127-member national preparation squad for the 2018 CAA African Senior Championships in Asaba, Nigeria between August 1-5.
The squad features several athletes that won medals at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, including sprinters Akani Simbine and Henricho Bruintjies, Long Jump stars Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai.
Also, middle-distance star Caster Semenya, hurdler Wenda Nel and Javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen are all on the roster.
The biennial continental championships will be another opportunity for South Africa to defend its continental crown won in 2016 in Durban with a total of 33 medals, 16 of them in gold.
Kenya followed in the second position with 24 total, with eight in gold.
This year’s hosts, Nigeria ended with four gold medals from a total of 16.
South Africa will utilise as another stepping stone to provide athletes with crucial experience in the build-up to next year’s IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
While the squad includes up to seven athletes in individual disciplines, it will be reduced closer to the event, as only three athletes are allowed per participating nation in each discipline.
“This is the squad that is meant to be finalised in due course to produce a best and formidable team that will defend the titles won in Morocco in 2014 and Durban in 2016.” An official of the Athletics Federation in South Africa explained.
Aside from Nigeria who have entered 72male, 69 female and 29 officials, the likes of Kenya, Algeria, and Senegal are also planning a large contingent for the Athletics Championships in Asaba.
Kenya have provisionally entered Kenya 34 male and 27 female athletes as well as 11 officials.
Algeria on their part have 31 male and 29 female athletes on their roster with 17 0fficials.
Senegal have entered 30 male and 30 female athletes as well as 9 officials.
The Asaba 2018 Africa Senior Athletics Championship will be held at the Asaba Township Stadium from August 1-5, 2018.