ASA, Sascoc at odds over quality vs quantity

2010-10-31 13:47

Athletics SA (ASA) intends challenging Sascoc’s new qualifying ­criteria for the Commonwealth Games, which left more than 30 athletes out of the New Delhi event.

The new criteria stipulate that despite the athletes meeting the usual IAAF standards, which would qualify them for events such as the Olympic Games and the world championships, they also have to be ranked in the top four of the ­Commonwealth countries.

As a result, athletes such as Ruben Ramolefi, Stephen Mokoka, Lebo ­Phalula, Lebogang Phalula, Juan van ­Deventer, Johan Cronje and Mapaseka Makhanya missed out on the games in India.

Only six athletes were in the team that won five medals compared to the 14 that were brought back home by the team of 56 that invaded Melbourne in 2006.

ASA athletes coordinator Hezekiel Sepeng said the new criteria needed to be reviewed.

“We need to make sure that next time something like this does not happen. The criteria needs to be negotiated with Sascoc.

“Athletics is a different sport and even if you are not in the top four once you are in the final anything can happen,” said Sepeng.

Sascoc president Gideon Sam said though they were open to talks, they would not compromise quality for ­quantity.

“Everything is negotiable. But what we must avoid is a situation where people want us to revert to a lower criteria,” he said.

Sam argued that this year the entire Commonwealth team (143) was almost half the number that was sent to the Melbourne Games but it brought back only five medals less than the 2006 tally of 38 by 245 athletes.

“The criteria must be of a high level. We are going to sit down with all federations and see that given the time left, what can be improved ahead of the 2014 Games in Glasgow,” said Sam.

National 3?000m steeplechase record-holder Ramolefi said he was puzzled when, after meeting the IAAF qualifying standard (8:24.60) after he finished the Diamond League race in Doha, Qatar, with 8:16.04, he still could not go to India.

Ramolefi was at the time ranked fifth.

Sepeng said: “The Commonwealth Games, unlike the Olympics and world championships, are a Sascoc event.

We tried to motivate for more athletes to be in the team, but Sascoc struck to the new criteria.

“The athletes are not happy, and I am with them on this one.”

He reasoned that taking athletes to Commonwealth Games was not only good for development, but it prepared them for bigger events such as the Olympics and world championships.

“The Commonwealth Games are good for development in that they ­prepare upcoming athletes and give them the experience of competing at that level,” Sepeng concluded. 

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