SA athletes regain top spot in Africa

2014-08-17 15:00

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Athletics SA (ASA) has challenged the SA Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee ­(Sascoc), government and the National ­Lottery “to think differently when they ­allocate funds in the sport”.

ASA president Aleck Skhosana threw down the gauntlet after South Africa reclaimed the continent’s number one ranking at the conclusion of the African Senior Athletics Championships in ­Marrakech, Morocco, on Thursday.

Team SA raked in 10 gold medals, ahead of Nigeria (8) and Kenya (7) on the medals table.

South Africa’s feat – with 19 medals in total – means the country will be represented at the IAAF Continental Cup in ­Marrakech next month.

“Our athletes’ performances in Morocco have ­redefined South Africa as the powerhouse of ­athletics on the continent,” said Skhosana, also noting the nine medals the team returned with from the Commonwealth Games in Scotland two weeks ago.

Six medallists from Glasgow – Khotso Mokoena (triple jump), Zarck Visser, Ruswahl Samaai (both long jump), Cornel Fredericks (400m hurdles), Wayde van Niekerk (400m) and Sunette Viljoen (javelin) – all medalled in ­Morocco.

“We spoke of unity and positive performances in the sport and now we are saying athletics now needs the support to build up for the 2015 IAAF World Championships [Beijing, China] and the 2016 Olympic Games [in Rio, Brazil].”

The highlight of Team SA’s performance in Morocco was the clean sweep in the men’s long jump by Visser (gold), Mokoena (silver) and Samaai (bronze).

Viljoen claimed her fourth African javelin title with a season’s best and championship record of 65.32m. She now has more javelin gold medals from the African Championships than any other athlete, male or female, in the 35-year history of the event.

Sascoc president Gideon Sam said Sascoc would soon conduct “one-on-ones” with the national sports federations to present their future plans.

“The federations now have to map their plans. The second phase will be the one-on-ones towards the end of September/beginning of October because we intend to announce the provisional squad for 2016 ­Olympics. The CEO [Tubby Reddy] is talking to the lottery regarding funding.”

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