Commonwealth Games Gold medalist Shawn Bownes believes that Varsity Athletics will raise South African track and field standards significantly.
Bownes, who won the 110m Hurdles at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and now coaches privately in Potchefstroom, told varsitysportssa.com that having the top athletes in the country competing against each other every week can only boost the sport.
“99% of the top athletes in South Africa are students, so it is fantastic that they will all be competing in a televised competition like Varsity Athletics,” he said.
Bownes said that the live broadcasts on Supersport every Monday night, which will see 100 minutes of explosive action as eight of the top Universities battle it out, will give athletics in South Africa some much-needed exposure.
“This means that coaches, sponsors and the public can now monitor the performances of our top athletes who will also push each other to improve their performances.
“Times will start dropping each week which gives the athletes a better chance of making qualifying times for the World Student Games, the Commonwealth games and other meetings in Europe,” he explained.
The former Hurdles champion expects traditional powerhouses NWU-Pukke and UP-Tuks to dominate, as judging from their results in recent years they should have too much firepower for the rest.
“If you look at the interprovincial results from the last few years, Gauteng and the North-West have done really well, and those Universities are always competitive at SASSU every year as they normally have the strongest athletes,” he said.