Picture: 123RF/ALESSANDRO0770
Picture: 123RF/ALESSANDRO0770

Athletics SA scrapped its own controversial qualifying standards as it named a 31-strong team for the World Championships in Doha from next Friday until October 6.

In the absence of Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya‚ expectations will rest heavily on long-jumpers Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai‚ who took gold and bronze two years ago.

Sprinter Akani Simbine‚ the men’s 4x100m relay team and the third long-jumper‚ Zarck Visser‚ are SA’s only other realistic medal hopes in the desert heat.

Olympic javelin silver medallist Sunette Viljoen was one of two invitations accepted by Athletics SA‚ the other being 110m hurdler Rikenette Steenkamp. That brings to five the number of women in the team‚ the others being Tebogo Mamatu (100m)‚ Dom Scott (5‚000m/10‚000m) and Zeney van der Walt (400m hurdles).

Invitations are issued to the highest-ranked athletes who fall short of the qualifying standards set by the world governing body‚ the IAAF.

Two years ago Athletics SA omitted 14 athletes who had achieved the IAAF’s qualifying standards but had fallen short of Athletics SA’s tougher criteria.

The tougher criteria were part of Athletics SA’s selection policy this time as well‚ but they were not applied for the 12 athletes who missed the body’s lofty entry levels.

An additional four athletes were selected for the men’s 4x100m and 4x400m relays.

SA ended third on the medals table with six medals at London 2017‚ but it is hard to imagine they will be able to repeat that without Van Niekerk and Semenya‚ who won a gold each two years ago.

Van Niekerk has yet to return to full-flight competition since injuring his right knee in 2017‚ and Semenya is fighting in court for the right to be allowed to compete without having to take medication to lower her naturally occurring high levels of testosterone.

There are two former World Championship medallists in the team. Viljoen, who will get an upgraded silver from 2011‚ won bronze at Beijing 2015. But in 2019 she is 33rd on the world list with a best throw of 61.22m from March.

Anaso Jobodwana took the 200m bronze behind Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin in 2015 but he has struggled to regain that form after suffering injury in 2016. His 20.38‚ well off his 19.87 personal best‚ places him 65th on the world list.

Even Clarence Munyai‚ SA’s fastest 200m sprinter in 2019 on 20.04‚ is far behind the 19.50 world lead held by American Noah Lyles.

SA has competed at 13 World Championships since readmission. They’ve won no medals on four occasions‚ at their first two in 1993 and 1995‚ and again in 2005 and 2007.

SA won a single gong at Moscow 2013 and two medals on three occasions‚ in 1997‚ 1999 and 2001. The best showing was two years ago‚ with three gold‚ a silver and two bronze.

Men: Akani Simbine (100m‚ 4x100m)‚ Thando Dlodlo (100m‚ 4x100m)‚ Simon Magakwe (100m‚ 4x100m)‚ Clarence Munyai (200m‚ 4x100m)‚ Anaso Jobodwana (200m‚ 4x100m)‚ Chederick van Wyk (4x100m)‚ Antonio Alkana (110m hurdles‚ 4x100m)‚ Derick Mokaleng (400m‚ 4x400m)‚ Thapelo Phora (400m‚ 4x400m)‚ Gardeo Isaacs (4x400m)‚ Ashley Hlungwane (4x400m)‚ Ranti Dikgale (4x400m)‚ Lindsey Hanekom (400m hurdles‚ 4x400m)‚ Tshepo Tshite (800m)‚ Rantso Mokopane (3‚000m SC)‚ Stephen Mokoka (marathon)‚ Desmond Mokgobu (marathon)‚ Thabiso Moeng (marathon)‚ David Manja (marathon reserve)‚ Ruan de Vries (110m hurdles)‚ Wayne Snyman (20km walk)‚ Marc Mundell (50km walk)‚ Zarck Visser (long jump)‚ Luvo Manyonga (long jump)‚ Ruswahl Samaai (long jump)‚ Orazio Cremona (shot put).

Women: Tebogo Mamatu (100m)‚ Dominique Scott (5‚000m/10‚000m)‚ Rikenette Steenkamp (110m hurdles)‚ Zeney van der Walt (400m hurdles)‚ Sunette Viljoen (javelin).