While the sprinters will again headline the SA Senior Championships, a number of thrilling races are expected to be contested across a variety of disciplines on the fast Tuks Stadium track.
These are some of the most exciting battles on offer at the three-day championships starting on Thursday.
One of the highlights of the national championships, a world-class line-up will join the race for the title of the country’s fastest man. While the 200m contest could also be spectacular, all eyes will be on the 100m final. The entry list includes defending champion Akani Simbine, half-lap star Anaso Jobodwana and 20-year-old prospect Clarence Munyai, who have all shown superb early form this season. Former SA record holders Henricho Bruintjies and Simon Magakwe will also be aiming to cause an upset
400m hurdles, men
As always, the one-lap dash over the barriers will be one of the hardest fought battles on show. Displaying tremendous depth, five South African men have dipped under 50 seconds this year, including titleholder Le Roux Hamman (49.22), eight-time champion LJ van Zyl (49.45), Commonwealth Games champion Cornel Fredericks (49.63), Constant Pretorius (49.72) and 17-year-old Sokwakhana Zazini (49.82). Getting into the final will be tough, and a blanket finish is on the cards
1 500m, women
With both athletes showing good form, World Championships bronze medallist Caster Semenya and national indoor record holder Dom Scott-Efurd will square off in a rematch of their 2016 battle in Stellenbosch. Though Semenya stormed to a convincing victory two years ago, her in-form compatriot looks to be up for another challenge. Both athletes will target doubles, with Semenya entered in the 800m event and Scott-Efurd in the 5 000m, but the metric mile final promises to be a humdinger
20km walk, men
After winning the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in Monterrey, Mexico last month, Lebo Shange will look to tweak any kinks in his armour ahead of the Commonwealth Games. The SA record holder is unlikely to have it all his own way, however, with Wayne Snyman again threatening to push him to the line in the high-altitude contest. The 50km walks for men and women will be held at the national track and field championships for the first time, but the real tussle is expected over the 20km distance
400m hurdles, women
Entering the championships as the fastest 400m hurdler in the world this year, defending champion Wenda Nel will settle into the blocks as the firm favourite for gold, but she will have a teenage prodigy snapping at her heels. Zeney van der Walt stunned the world with a gutsy performance to win the world youth title last year, and after clocking 56.29 behind Nel’s 55.31 world lead on the Tuks track last week, the 17-year-old prospect is expected to put up a fight as she leads the chase