Juniors to make impact at Cross Country Trials in Potchefstroom
For many junior athletes competing at the Cross Country Trials on 18 February it will be a first opportunity to represent the country at bigger competitions, such as the Southern Region Cross Country Championships and the African Cross Country Championships.
A total of 24 athletes, 12 men and 12 women, have been invited by Athletics South Africa to compete, but the invitation is not a guarantee of a slot in the squad and they therefore cannot rest on their laurels against the 37 eager individuals, all hoping to do well to secure a spot.
Some of South Africa’s best athletes will be in the line-up this Saturday. Sirayi Thabisa, an athlete from Transkei, shone at the SA Cross Country Championships in Bloemfontein in September last year when she won the Junior title. Positions 2-5 went to Sylvia Tshetlanyane (Central Gauteng), Mamphielo Sibanda (Central Gauteng), Happiness Mkhize and Goodness Lichaba, all of whom will be present on Saturday to show everybody why they were invited by Athletics SA.
Tshetlanyane has some international experience as she is one of the juniors that represented South Africa at the World Cross Country Championships in Spain (20 March 2011). Before that she finished 4th in the trials, which took place on 19 January 2011. In September she then proceeded to finished second at the SA Cross Country Championships.
Amongst the male contenders is Sithembile Dondolo, an athlete who improved from the time of the trials last year to the SA Cross Country Championships. The trials saw him finish 33rd, but he improved tremendously by finishing fourth at the National Championships. Others will include Ernest Basime from North West North, Luvuyo Mhlakaza from Kwazulu Natal and Sello Masia from the Free State.
With cross country being the building block for middle and long distance running in South Africa, the amount of athletes entered is an encouraging sign for the sport. Many of these athletes will have their first taste of South African Cross Country against some of the top juniors in the country, most of them not knowing what to expect.
“I am very excited about the trials. I have never practised as hard as I have done this past week and I expect very tough competition, especially seeing Mauritz Tuit practising. He is in excellent shape and definitely a strong competitor,” said Theodore Nothling, a first timer from Central North West hoping to do well in the trials.
The Cross Country Trials will take place at the cross country course at the University Sport Grounds in Potchefstroom. The first event, a 4km fun run, will start at 09:00 followed by the senior men and women at 09:30 and 10:10 respectively. The junior events will start at 10:45 (men) and 11:20 (women).
See full list of juniors to compete below:
Athletics SA squad
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