The Republic of South Africa has named a 75-member strong squad for the 18th African Senior Championships in Athletics holding in Porto Novo, Benin from June 27 to July 1.
The team, which consists of 46 men and 30 women, include some of SA's leading Olympic medal hopes including the Berlin 2009 world champion & Daegu 2011 silver medallist in the 800 metres, Caster Semenya, as well as the Paralympic star, the Blade Runner - Oscar Pistorius.
Semenya, 21, has already qualified for London 2012, but still need to compete in the Championships to satisfy the criteria set by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).
Semenya recorded a time of 1:59.60 in Pretoria on April 5, her season's best, which was also the first sub-two minute 800 metres run in the country since 1991 when Zelda Pretorius ran 1:58.85. She had previously represented South Africa at one African Championship, as a junior athlete in Bambous, Mauritius in 2009. Later that year she clocked an stunning 1:55.45 to capture the World Championship title in Berlin.
Also in the team released by the Athletics South Africa (ASA) is World Championship 400m hurdles bronze medallist LJ van Zyl. The 26-year-old from Gauteng North became the first track and field athlete to qualify for the Olympic Games on April 5. Van Zyl will be aiming for a fourth straight African title after previously winning in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Beijing 2008 Olympic silver medallist Godfrey Khotso Mokoena will be defending his title in the men's Long Jump.
After losing his national title in windy conditions in Port Elizabeth, he bounced back and reached the Olympic Qualifying A-standard at the Yellow Pages III meeting in Pretoria on April 20 with a leap of 8.29m. Mokoena recently competed in the Diamond League meeting in Doha on May 11 and finished second with a best jump of 8.10m.
Sunette Viljoen will be competing in the javelin. She currently holds the African and South African record and has also qualified for the Olympic Games.
It will be the fifth time the 29-year-old takes part in the CAA African Championships after winning gold medals in 2004, 2008 and 2010, and the silver medal in 2006. In September 2011, she won bronze in Daegu at the World Championships with a career best throw of 68.38m. Her best this season is 61.84m in Ostrava on May 25.
The Full Team
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