Junior and senior track and field athletes from across the Eastern Cape and beyond are coming to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University next Saturday for the Madibaz EP Track and Field league 2, the second major athletics meet of the year.
The Madibaz will be welcoming athletes from local schools and clubs, and have also extended invitations to federations in the South Western Districts, Border and Free State to compete in the event at the Madibaz Stadium on October 17.
Madibaz athletics manager Nellis Bothma said this event was the one of the first of the new season and would give athletes a good indication of how well they needed to prepare before the 2016 season started in earnest.
“Athletes will be able to test themselves against their peers to a certain extent but, more importantly, they will be able to gauge their own standard before competing in the 2016 events,” said Bothma.
Athletes coming to the Port Elizabeth event will compete in the age groups they qualify for next year, giving them an indication of the standard they can expect in their various disciplines heading into the new season.
Some of the Madibaz athletes expected to compete will include 22-year-old Eastern Province shot put and discus champion Ischke Senekal and 24-year-old long and middle distance track star Mariano Eesou.
Eesou and Senekal were named Madibaz male and female athletes of the year, in both the student and senior categories, at their annual general meeting earlier this week.
Senekal won gold and silver for the shot put and discus respectively at the South African Senior Track and Field Championships and followed that up with a silver medal in discus at the African Games in Brazzaville last month.
Eesou has represented Madibaz in track events ranging from 1 500m to half-marathons and claimed bronze in the 10km race at the 2015 University Sport South Africa cross-country event. He was also part of Team SA at the African Games and came 15th in the half-marathon.
Bothma added that next weekend’s event would also give Madibaz the opportunity to scout for talent as some of the junior athletes might be looking for a university to further their studies or sporting career next year.
“By inviting some school teams to the event we have an opportunity to see young talent in action. This could help us identify talent that could be further developed at Madibaz from next year.”
These athletes identified to possibly join the Madibaz team could then benefit from NMMU’s newly opened High Performance Complex and all its facilities.