While the South African under-20 team is preparing for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Junior track and field Championships, WPA’s Antonio Alkana, 28, is gearing up for the IAAF Athletics World Cup, in London, England, in July 2018.
This will be the first time the IAAF presents a World Cup Championships in this format. Only the top 8 track and field countries in the world are invited to compete at the 2018 Championships. South Africa was the fifth best track and field country in the world in 2017 which meant Athletics South Africa(ASA) was invited to enter a team for the Championships. The other seven countries to compete in the inaugural competition are China; France; Jamaica; Germany; Great Britain; Poland; and the United States of America.
Each of the teams who will compete at the competition can only enter one male and female athlete per event. The events on the time table of the Championships are: 100m; 200m; 400m; 800m; 1500m; 100mH/110mH; 400mH; 4x100m relay: 4 x 400m relay; long jump; triple jump; shot put; discuss; javelin; hammer throw; pole vault and high jump.
“This is a great competition because it’s the best athletes in the world going up against each other. I'm looking forward to competing against the athletes from the seven countries and to go out there and give my all,” said Antonio who has represented South Africa at a number of international championships, including the Olympic Games (2016), the IAAF World Senior Championships (2015 and 2017) and the Commonwealth Games (2018).
Antonio, who has had a consistent start to his 2018 European season, finished in fourth place, in the men’s 110m hurdles event, clocking 13.52 seconds, at the Meeting d’Athl?tisme de Montreuil, in France, on Tuesday, June 19 2018.
On Wednesday June 13 2018, he finished in sixth place, in the men’s 110m hurdles event, clocking 13.65 seconds, at the Ostrava Golden Spike meet, in Czech Republic. On June 4 and 8 2018, Antonio finished third and second, in the same event, clocking 13.51 and 13.42 seconds, at the Chorzow Janusz Kusocinski Memorial meet, in Poland and Praha Josef Odlozil Memorial meet, in Czech Republic.
Earlier in the year the South African and African record holder in the men’s 110m hurdles event started his international season in fine style, placing 5th and clocking 13.49 seconds, at the Commonwealth Games, in Gold Coast, Australia, in April 2018.
“My European performances thus far haven’t been great but I'm still happy with the outcome of my races. I’m working on a few technical things and hopefully it can work out and my times will start dropping. It was my first Commonwealth Games and I was satisfied with my results there. In January I tore my hamstring so my build up to the Commonwealth Games wasn't that smooth,” said Antonio.
This comes after Antonio was unbeaten going into the international track and field season. He finished in first place, stopping the clock at 13.48 seconds, at the ASA Senior Championships, in Pretoria, March 2018. In the same month, Antonio won the gold medal in the men’s 110 hurdles events, at the inaugural Athletix Grand Prix meets, in Pretoria and Paarl, clocking 13.61 and 13.39 seconds.
Antonio’s track and field career started, in 2004, at Malibu High School, in Blue Downs, in Cape Town. His breakthrough came in Grade 12(2008) when he came fourth in the boys’ under-19, 110m hurdles at the South African high schools’ championships, in Rustenburg, North-West Province. A year later, he joined Bellville Athletics Club and has not looked back since then.
“All the hard work at training sessions over the years has finally paid off. I never gave up and knew one day I would reach my dream of competing on the international stage,” he said.
Story By: Bellville Athletics Club (Keagan Mitchell)
Picture Credit: Roger Sedres