ASA builds up its body for Olympics

2011-12-10 20:24

The SA Open Championships is one of two new entries on the list of athletics meets planned for next year.

Given that 2012 is the year of the Olympics, the track and field championships comprise all the standard Olympic events.

Athletics South Africa (ASA) president James Evans said the competition, pencilled in for Pretoria in May, will strictly only be open to local athletes.

“The SA Open is one of the two main events to qualify (for the Olympics) and it is open only to South African citizens,” Evans said.

He said another qualifying event would be the SA Senior Championships.

“In terms of the fixtures, we don’t want to have too many events. Therefore, the 2012 calendar is more like the one from this year.”

Last season’s calendar had 14 events, which included schools’ competitions.

In another modification to next year’s schedule, the inter-provincial competition has been moved to the beginning of the season.

Explained Evans: “It will be easier for us as it will help with the selection of the team (to the Olympics).
“The invitation meetings will come in the second half of the season.”

The invitation events are the Yellow Pages Series I, II and III. In the past, the three meets were the traditional season- opening events.

Evans also revealed that ASA had planned to engage the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee’s (Sascoc’s) medical team to scan athletes.

This, he said, would be the starting point to avoid the repetition of last year’s debacle, triggered by the withdrawal of key athletes on the eve of the Commonwealth Games in India.

Beijing 2008 Olympic medallists Caster Semenya, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (both 800m) and long jumper Khotso Mokoena, were at the centre of the furore that set ASA and Sascoc at each other’s throats.

Semenya had furnished the authorities with her medical report at the time, but Sascoc accused Mulaudzi and Mokoena of feigning injuries.

However, the pair eventually backed up their withdrawal with certificates.

“Some of our athletes carried serious injuries that prevented them from going to the (IAAF) World Championships (in September),” said Evans without revealing names.

This time around, Evans said, ASA would work closely with Sascoc to help monitor athletes, including those that are yet to make it into the Sascoc Operation Excellence programme (Opex).

Opex offers medal hopefuls – subject to them meeting Sascoc’s selection criteria – with training, and medical and financial support.

» Meanwhile, Evans together with Geraldine Pillay (athletics commission) and Harold Adams (medical and doping commission) have been appointed to sit on the IAAF Road Running Commission.

The trio will serve in their respective commissions for the next four years.

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