Wayde and Akani Lead 36-Member SA Team for World Athletics Champs

At least two medal hopes for SA in Budapest

RW Reporter |

World 400m record holder and former world champion Wayde van Niekerk and three-time finalist Akani Simbine will lead the SA team at the World Athletics Championships starting in Budapest, Hungary next week after being named in a strong national team by Athletics South Africa.

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The final team announced by the federation on Tuesday includes a total of 36 athletes made of 24 men and 12 women who will represent South Africa at the 19th edition of the international track and field showpiece.

Van Niekerk, who won 400m gold at the 2015 and 2017 World Championships, has been in good form this year after recovering from a serious near- career-ending injury and the world record holder will be targeting a medal.

Simbine, the SA 100m record holder, will be equally eager to step on the podium after narrowly missing out on a medal at the last three editions of the World Championships. He will also spearhead the national 4x100m relay team.

They will be joined by the likes of African 110m hurdles record holder Antonio Alkana, former World Championships finalist Victor Hogan (discus throw), and former Diamond League meeting winners Zakithi Nene (400m) and Luxolo Adams (200m).

Among a relatively young women’s contingent, most athletes will be looking to gain valuable experience at the highest level as they look to punch above their weight against the world’s best.

Some athletes will also be aiming to spring a surprise by giving their opposition a shake, led by the likes of Commonwealth Games medallist Zeney van der Walt (400m hurdles) and SA record holder Marione Fourie (100m hurdles).

“Our team is out and it’s time to go and showcase what they have fought so much for,” said James Moloi, the President of Athletics South Africa.  “These are the warriors we are sending to battle and to hold the flag high.

“We believe in them and we encourage them to do the same. As they go along with the battle they must also enjoy themselves in the process, but this is no holiday.”

The nine-day World Athletics Championships will be held in Budapest between 19-27 August 2023.

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