Cape Town – Middle-distance runner Caster Semenya lines up as the favourite in her specialist discipline on Thursday night, as she leads five South African athletes at the fifth leg of the IAAF Diamond League series in Oslo, Norway.
Semenya, the fastest woman in the world this year (1:56.61), will aim to extend her lead of the series when she turns out for the Women’s 800m race.
She faces another full-strength field, again meeting the likes of Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Kenyan Margaret Wambui, who earned Olympic silver and bronze medals respectively last season behind the SA record holder.
Eager to build on a solid season, LJ van Zyl is listed among the entries in the Men’s 400m Hurdles race. Having displayed consistent form this season, he will be eager to edge closer towards the sub-49 seconds barrier.
Van Zyl goes down into the blocks alongside the likes of American Kerron Clement the Olympic champion, Irish athlete Thomas Barr the World Student Games champion and Turkish star Yasmani Copello who is the European champion.
Sprinter Pieter Conradie, meanwhile, makes his Diamond League debut in the Men’s 400m race.
Conradie is the second-fastest man this year in the line-up, holding a 45.15 Personal Best,with only African champion Baboloki Thebe of Botswana (44.89) having run quicker than the SA champion this season.
Five of the eight men in the field, however, have gone under 45 seconds in their careers, and Conradie could face a baptism of fire.
Rynardt van Rensburg and Henco Uys will compete in the 800m ‘national’ race on the pre-programme.
Schedule of SA athletes:
6.23pm – 800m ‘national’ men (Rynardt van Rensburg, Henco Uys)
8.03pm – 400m men (Pieter Conradie)
9.10pm – 800m women (Caster Semenya)
9.25pm – 400m hurdles (LJ van Zyl).