Updated: May 5, 2016


Wayde van Niekerk is expected to light up the track in front of his home crowd

All eyes will be on 400m world champion Wayde van Niekerk this weekend as he makes his final appearance of the season in front of his home crowd at the SA Open Championships, to be held in Bloemfontein on Friday and Saturday.
Van Niekerk clocked 9.98 seconds at Free State Stadium in March, dipping under 10 seconds over 100m for the first time in his career at the provincial championships.
He is again expected to have the local crowd on their feet at the SA Open when he turns out in his specialist 400m event, in what should be another dominant effort.
In the men’s 400m hurdles event, Lindsey Hanekom will hope to achieve the qualifying standard for the Rio Olympics, after knocking on the door during a breakthrough domestic campaign.
Hanekom set a personal best of 49.47 to win the SA student title in Limpopo last week, and he needs to chop another 0.07 off his career record to be considered for Games selection.
While many of the nation’s fastest men have already shifted their focus towards the international season, junior prospect Kyle Appel will hope to stun his senior opponents in a men’s 100m field which also includes in-form powerhouse speedster Emile Erasmus and Gideon Trotter.
Victor Hogan, the leading discus thrower in the world this year, will not compete in Bloemfontein as he is in the line-up for the Diamond League meeting in Doha on Friday night, but a hard-fought contest is expected from a field including African Games gold medallist Russell Tucker and world youth champion Werner Visser.
Other athletes who could steal the show in Bloemfontein if they are at their best include former Olympic long jump silver medallist Khotso Mokoena, who will compete in the triple jump discipline, world student 400m champion Justine Palframan and Youth Olympics 400m hurdles gold medallist Gezelle Magerman.
Full programmes will be contested in the senior and junior divisions at the SA Open, along with a number of events for athletes with disabilities, as the country’s elite athletes continue their build-up to various major international championships later this season.

* The full programme for the SA Open Championships is available in our Flash News section