STRONG LINE-UPS FOR PUKKE PRESTIGE MEETING

 
Updated: March 19, 2015

Local athletes are expected to dominate the Pukke Prestige meeting in Sasolburg on Thursday night, spearheaded by hosts North-West University, as the top-flight domestic season gets underway.
Potchefstroom-based middle-distance runners Caster Semenya, Andre Olivier and Elroy Gelant will make their season debuts, though none of the trio will compete in their specialist events.
Semenya, the Olympic 800m silver medallist and former world champion, will line up in the women’s 400m race as she starts her comeback season after struggling with injuries and fitness.
Olivier has been included in the men’s 400m start list, up against African champion Isaac Makwala of Botswana.
And Gelant, aiming for the SA 5 000m record this year, will face a strong field in the men’s 1 500m event which also includes national junior record holder Dumisane Hlaselo, with World Student Games bronze medallist Jerry Motsau expected to set the pace.
Some of the country’s best hammer throwers, who are based in Sasolburg, will also be in action as World Junior Championships finalist Tshepang Makhethe challenges veteran SA record holder Chris Harmse.
Athletes from other provinces will attempt to steal the show, however, spearheaded by former Olympic long jump silver medallist Khotso Mokoena.
Competing in the triple jump event in Sasolburg, Mokoena and countryman Tumelo Thagane will be up against Namibian Roger Haitengi, the African Championships bronze medallist.
On the track, one-lap hurdles star LJ van Zyl, who displayed fine form with a season-opening 49.42 victory in Pretoria earlier this month, is hoping to go even faster in his specialist event.
Van Zyl is due to line up against the likes of Wouter le Roux and Mozambique’s Kurt Cuoto, the All Africa Games silver medallist.
Lebogang Phalula, eager to shine on the track this year after a superb 2014 campaign on the road, is set to face national cross country trials champion Nolene Conrad in the women’s 3 000m race.
Other notable entries include shot put athlete Jaco Engelbrecht and 110m hurdler Ruan de Vries.