Beijing – An administration bungle has caused heartbreak for Team SA marathon runner Lukas Jani at what would have been his maiden IAAF World Championships.
The 25-year-old will now watch his teammates from the sidelines on Sunday morning after the IAAF instructed that he be dropped because only three athletes were allowed to be fielded.
But Jani – with a season best 2:17.37 – was one of the four South African marathoners who met the required entry standard time of 2:18:00, meaning he could go as a reserve.
Athletics South Africa officials at the China global championships said it was not their fault as Jani, of Athletics Gauteng North, was initially registered by the IAAF and he was issued with a race number on Wednesday.
“They [IAAF] contacted us to say we must withdraw one [runner]. This has left us with emotional scars as the athlete is devastated,” said team leader Pieter Lourens.
He added that Jani was dropped based on his time, which was the slowest among the quartet.
According to IAAF entry rules, it is only when a team has the reigning world marathon champion in the team that up to four athletes would be permitted to compete, provided they had qualified.
The wild card entry is also offered to the reigning Diamond League hammer thrower.
However, Team SA manager and marathon coach in Beijing, James Moloi, said Jani would remain in China as a reserve and he would continue to train with the three other athletes.
Ethiopia also had one marathon runner dropped from their team, which initially had four members listed in the IAAF entry lists.
It is now left to Desmond Mokgobu, Sibusiso Nzima and Benedict Moeng to carry the flag in the 42km race on Sunday morning (1am South African time).