Diamond League in SA?
Johannesburg - South Africa's Olympic committee president Gideon Sam on Thursday indicated that South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) has entered discussions with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to bring the popular Diamond League meetings to the country.
Sam said he had engaged in a number of talks with IAAF president Lamine Diack about bringing international meetings to South Africa.
"The IAAF president said it is there for the taking and we are just waiting for the election of the president and vice-president of Athletics South Africa (ASA) then we can finalise the process," said Sam.
Sam revealed that an events management company had also been in discussions with Diack on two occasions.
"We are excited about what is going to happen and hopefully by 2016 athletics in this country will be back to where we used to be."
He said Sascoc were encouraging ASA to find their feet and engage people who want to assist them in bringing big meetings like the Diamond League to the country.
"Somewhere there is someone with big pockets who would like to assist in bringing the Diamond League and huge championships to South Africa," said Sam.
"It is the only way that we will bring the big names here.
"The big names will then encourage SA athletes to greater heights."
Sam said they were looking at bringing smaller IAAF sanctioned events to Durban, East London and Bloemfontein with two Diamond League meets to be staged in Port Elizabeth and Stellenbosch.
ASA chairperson James Evans, however, poured cold water on Sam's grand plans.
Evans said ASA does not have the capacity to host big meetings like the Diamond League meets and it did not fit into their development plans for the next five years.
"We would rather start with smaller African meetings," said Evans.
"It is also concerning that we as a national federation had not been consulted.
"Our concern at the moment is with finding javelin throwers from Soweto."
He said South Africa also did not have enough big stadiums to accommodate major crowds.
Evans added that IAAF recognised officials would have to be used at the meetings.
South Africa, said Evans, only have one recognised official and ASA would be forced to bring in all the officials from abroad.
Meanwhile, Sam said South Africa were still on track with their goal of 12 medals at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
"We set the target and are sticking to it," said Sam.
"We believe that we have given the athletes good support over the past two years.
Sascoc's next litmus test will be the 10th All Africa Games in Maputo held from September 3 to 18.
"The aim in Maputo will be to have a team there that will ensure that we are number one in Africa, this nonsensical thing that we are number three in Africa is unacceptable," said Sam.
He said the team to go to Maputo should go out to make statement.
"The statement is that South Africa has arrived and we want to take our position right at the top."
"That is what we are going to do."