South African Athletics

ASA ‘ran a good race’

2017-08-20 08:30
Wayde van Niekerk (AP)

Johannesburg - Athletics SA (ASA) president Aleck Skhosana remains unapologetic for his organisation’s stringent selection criteria for the IAAF World Championships, despite heavy criticism.

Skhosana and company feel vindicated now that the country is celebrating its most successful achievement yet at the event.

In fact, a swashbuckling Skhosana says people must expect even tougher qualifying criteria for the next IAAF World Championships to be held in Doha, Qatar, in 2019.

He insists he has no time for critics and feels vindicated by the team’s haul of six medals – three gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

A small team of 27 athletes managed the record haul by South Africa, who only garnered three medals in Beijing in 2015.

However, as celebrations continue, there are a number of things that need to be addressed urgently, such as:

. The country needs sound representation in the men’s 800m;

. A woman javelin thrower;

. A 400m hurdles man;

. A discus thrower; and

. Both women and men high jumpers.

These should be cause for concern if SA are to maintain their performance at the next championships, in case a big name like Caster Semenya or Wayde van Niekerk sustains an injury as happened with javelin queen Sunette Viljoen, who was a guaranteed medal contender in London.

SA’s six medals also came from four athletes from a team of 27 and that is something that ASA has to work on as they cannot continue to rely on poster boy Van Niekerk and golden girl Semenya.

“We have set a benchmark and this is the time to celebrate,” said Skhosana.

“This is not a time to apologise. I’m not apologetic. For as long as I’m still the head of ASA. I’m not going to allow the team to decline in the world championships. We need to increase our medal tally.

“And the message is loud and clear: We will not lower the qualifying standards.”

He added: “The qualifying saga is now water under the bridge. We are not going to apologise to anyone and we are not going to feel sorry for anyone.”

The president said the ASA board was scheduled to hold a meeting to discuss the team’s performance at the world champs.

“We have not yet set the objective for 2019, but we sure want to better the standard.”

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