Commonwealth Games

ASA to 'deal with' Mokoena

2010-10-03 16:34
Khotso Mokoena (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Athletics South Africa's (ASA) track and field chairman, James Evans, admitted on Sunday the federation was unsure of the details, but would get to the bottom of Khotso Mokoena's no-show after the long jumper failed to board a flight for New Delhi with the rest of the country's injury-hit Commonwealth Games athletics team.

The quadrennial multi-sport event gets under way with the opening ceremony on Sunday night, with the sports programme kicking off on Monday, but Mokoena stayed behind when the rest of the track and field team left on Thursday evening.

The 25-year-old had been struggling with a leg injury, but passed a fitness test last week and was cleared to compete by SA team doctor Shuaib Manjra.

Evans, however, said ASA believed the Olympic silver medallist, who was reported to have missed as much as six weeks of training, had opted to boycott the event due to a lack of competition in recent months.

"The ASA board met at the weekend and, while we're not sure of the details, a decision was made to deal with the situation," Evans said.

"We know that he's gone to ground, but we haven't spoken to him, so we're not aware of his reasons.

"We're assuming he doesn't want to take part because he hasn't competed since the African Championships more than two months ago, and while he might be fit, there's a question as to whether he is competition fit."

A furious Tubby Reddy, chief executive of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), said in a statement at the weekend that Mokoena would be "dealt with" and that the nation's Olympic governing body found his behaviour "unacceptable".

Mokoena won silver at last year's World Athletics Championships in Berlin, and placed second again at the World Indoor Chamionships in Doha in March.

And while he bagged the continental title in Nairobi at the end of July, he succumbed to a nagging leg muscle injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season.

Reddy confirmed that sprinter Simon Magakwe had also failed to arrive in New Delhi, and as they had "not been aware of any injury", SASCOC would be "investigating why he did not arrive".

Reports at the weekend suggested that triple jumper Tumelo Thagane was also a no-show, which would leave only six athletes in South Africa's track and field team.

And with world 800m champions Caster Semenya and Mbulaeni Mulaudzi having withdrawn due to back injuries, the nation's initial 11-man athletics squad has lost its three best hopes for gold.

After securing 14 medals, including five gold, with a 57-member athletics team in Melbourne four years ago, they will by fortunate to bag even a handful of medals in Delhi, and South Africa will rely on the swimming team to contribute the most as they optimistically aim for a place among the top five on the table.

Mokoena, the African long jump record holder and a former world indoor champion, was unavailable for comment.


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