Top athletes to vie for R200?000 pot of gold

2011-03-25 00:00

ON the international scene there will be considerable interest in the Rome Diamond League, where Usain Bolt will face Asafa Powell in the sprints. Bolt had a low-key year last year and pulled out of the Commonwealth Games, but is sure to be keen to defend his World Championship title and world records in 2011. Expect an even stronger Bolt tomorrow.

Nationally, the Yellow Pages Athletic programme moves into the next level tomorrow with the reintroduction of interprovincial competitions.

This sees provincial teams of ten men and ten women compete for honours and a R100 000 prize for the top province over the two-leg series, which finishes in Bellville on April 16.

Tomorrow’s event is hosted at Germiston Stadium and is sure to attract many top athletes in search of a share of the R200 000 Pot of Gold that has been set aside for sharing among athletes who break a senior SA record during the Yellow Pages season. At present, L.J. van Zyl has it all coming his way following his record run in the 400 metre hurdles in Pretoria, but there are a number of athletes looking to come onto form and more records can easily fall in the next weeks.

“As a sponsor, we are delighted to be a part of the two-leg Yellow Pages Interprovincial Series 2011, which will allow our athletics stars to strive for glory in the colours of their respective provinces and we look forward to witnessing which province will be looked at as the number one athletics province in SA,” said Lionel Smith, GM: Marketing of Trudon (publishers of Yellow Pages).

There are currently six provinces that have entered full teams of ten athletes in both the men’s and the women’s competitions, but it is an indication of the state of KwaZulu-Natal athletics that, although it is the second most populous province, only three men have been entered for an interprovincial.

The current administration must be embarrassed by this, particularly given the proclaimed links with the provincial Academy of Excellence. Clearly, when many smaller provinces are able to produce competitive teams, KZN athletics, the Academy, or both, are failing track and field athletes. Hopefully changes will be adopted to correct this at the AGM.

The province will be represented by Siyabonga Nkonde and Bonginkosi Zwane in the 5 000 m and Tebogo Khanye in the 1 500 m. This rules the province out of any placing in the interprovincial where scores must also be obtained in field and jumps events.

The next major track event in Durban is the SA Senior Yellow Pages Track and Field Championship on April 8 and 9. This is the most prestigious track and field event held in South Africa and a major consideration in the selection of the team for the World Championships in South Korea in August.

The country’s top athletes will be drawn to the coast, including the likes of 400 m hurdler Van Zyl, 800 m world champions Caster Semenya and Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, and SA 3 000 m steeplechase exponent Ruben Ramolefi, who ran a sub-four-minute mile in the third leg of the Yellow Pages Series in Bellville.

There are no local road races this weekend as a result of the cancellations of both the Midlands Meander, and the Jock Morrison and Son Memorial Inkosi 16 km at Umtubatuba.

With so many clubs scrambling for dates, these cancellations really should be avoided and explain why late submissions for races for 2012 should be rejected so that clubs who do put on events can have the best options on dates.

This means that cross-country is the premier event for the weekend with league two being hosted by Hilton Harriers at Laddsworth School. The standard league programme will be used, beginning at 1 pm with the U12 boys and girls and working through to the Senior men at 4 pm. Jeff Speed has more details at 082 892 4215.

There will be a schools’ league cross-country at Mounthaven Primary Verulam, starting at 8.30 am. Entry is free to all school pupils. Participation certificates are given to all finishers and the top three finishers will receive medals.

One of the side effects of the race cancellations will hopefully be a larger attendance at the KZN AGM on Saturday morning. In recent years minimal club interest has resulted in the start being delayed in order to hold the meeting with less than a quorum. The club apathy has been an indication of the distance between the club requirements and the administration of the sport at provincial level.

Presumably the two planned presentations by the Department of Sport and Recreation, and the Department of Education are part of an intention to explain why so much of the KZN athletics agenda, and so many of its courses and events are organised around these two governmental departments as opposed to clubs. There are eight motions, including seven motions for constitutional changes, which, as the detail has not been provided, makes it impossible for clubs to seek a mandate from their membership prior to the meeting.

With Dr Simon Dlamini having been banned from the sport for three years, there should be the election of a replacement to the executive, although again it has not been stated how this will be addressed.

No doubt the many unconstitutional aspects of the meeting will be addressed by the clubs at the AGM, which starts at 9 am in the boardroom of Kings Park athletic track on Saturday morning.

Runners who competed in the Gaterite Challenge Marathon are now able to access results on the website at www.eventtiming.co.za

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