NEWLY crowned SA champions in the men’s 100m and women’s 800m, Akani Simbine and Caster Semenya, will kick off their international season tomorrow in Doha, Qatar, the first stop of the 2017 Diamond League Series.

The Doha meeting kick-starts the annual 14-meeting track and field event, which is broadcast exclusively live on SuperSport.

Participation in meets is by invitation only, ensuring that only the cream of the crop of athletes contest the series, which rewards winners of each discipline with a diamond trophy and US$50 000 (more than R668 000) in prize money.

Each one of the 32 disciplines (16 each for men and women) is staged a total of seven times during the season.

The top six athletes at each meet are awarded points.

The top eight or 12 athletes in the overall standings of each discipline at the end of the Birmingham meeting progress to the finals held in either Zurich or Brussels, depending on which discipline they compete in.

That means that, at each of the finals, the fields will be packed exclusively with athletes who have performed consistently over the entire season.

Simbine will line up against the likes of Justlin Gatlin, Asafa Powell and Olympic bronze medallist Andre de Grasse from 7.25pm.

Semenya is the 2016 Diamond League winner in the 800m and starts her title defence against a strong field featuring Olympics silver and bronze medallists Francine Niyonsaba and Margaret Wambui.

The trio will meet again later this month in Eugene in the USA.

Other South Africans set to compete at this year’s series meetings include Luvo Manyonga, who will be making his debut in Shanghai, China, and Wenda Nel and Sunette Viljoen, competing in Eugene.

Source: Daily sun