Cape Town - 2014 Commonwealth Games triple jump champion Khotso Mokoena believes that the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) has a “personal issue” with him.
This comes after the 32-year-old was a surprise omission from the South Africa squad that will travel to the 2018 edition on Australia's Gold Coast from April 4-15.
Mokoena, who is also an Olympic silver medallist in the long jump from Beijing 2008, believes that he has been hard done by, and took to Twitter to vent his frustration.
The confusion, it seems, lies in the qualifying criteria.
SASCOC High Performance manager Ezera Tshabangu confirmed to Sport24 that she understood Mokoena’s frustrations, but that he had not produced the qualifying standard during the time frame stipulated.
SASCOC and Athletics South Africa (ASA), Tshabangu said, agreed that all athletes should reach their qualifying times or distances between August 1 and December 31, 2017.
In addition, once an athlete had achieved the qualifying time or distance, that time or distance would need to be in the top 10 Commonwealth rankings to be considered for Team SA selection.
According to Tshabangu, Mokoena’s qualifying jump on December 2 of 16.55m did meet the minimum qualifying distance to get to the Gold Coast, but it left him with a Commonwealth ranking of 12th at the end of the year.
When Mokoena jumped 16.68m in Pretoria this past weekend, it was a distance that would have been good enough to get him to the Games, but it came too late.
Tshabangu says that Mokoena’s name had appeared on a preliminary list that ASA had sent to SASCOC on January 8 this year.
On that list, ASA had included Mokoena’s December 2 (16.55m) jump.
At a meeting on January 10 between SASCOC and ASA, SASCOC went through the list of proposed athletes and encouraged ASA to reconsider the names they had put forward.
Tshabangu says that when they received the final list of names from ASA on January 12, Mokoena’s name was not on it.
Mokoena went to the SASCOC offices on Wednesday to seek clarity, but he did not leave with the news that he wanted.
His 16.68m this past weekend would've been good enough to earn him bronze at Glasgow 2014, but that's irrelevant four years later.
“Our federations have the right to send the names of those who are medal contenders with the motivation to put them on the team,” Mokoena argued.
“They (SASCOC) are saying that my name wasn’t there. My name was there … 100%.
“It’s really disappointing that things have to be handled this way.
“It is only now that some of us start the season. There is no way that you can chase the qualifying standards from August 1 until December 31 … we are just finishing the season at that time.
“What is important is that this must not go on. Every time athletics has to be picked this is what they do.”
Responding to claims that things were personal between SASCOC and Mokoena, Tshabangu disagreed.
“I understand that he is disappointed,” said Tshabangu.
“We have got nothing personal against him. It wasn’t just him alone, there are quite a few athletes who haven’t been selected.”