Bittersweet year for Athletics SA

2012-09-15 19:33

Soweto Marathon will bring the domestic calendar to an end

With one major Athletics SA (ASA) run event left – the SA Race Walking championships next month – to close the domestic athletics calendar, the sport had its fair share of bittersweet experiences this year.

The suspension of CEO Frik Vermaak was no doubt a damper to an organisation that’s only financial backer, Yellow Pages, did not renew its sponsorship.

“From the organisational point of view, we had the (presidential) elections out of the way to fully focus on the job at hand,” said ASA president James Evans.

“The Frik Vermaak issue was a letdown. However, we can look back at the Yellow Pages (championships), which was good in many ways.”

Evans said the ASA was still in talks with the SABC and potential sponsors, whose names he refused to reveal.

The ASA’s deals with its main partners, Yellow Pages, worth R20 million, ended in May while the broadcast contract expired at the end of March.

The public broadcaster held exclusive rights to ASA-sanctioned events and the initial five-year deal agreed upon in 2007 was more than R6 million.

Yellow Pages sponsorship manager Zwelakhe Ndlovu said: “Our three-year sponsorship ended in May and its up to the parties to sit down and pave the way forward.”

On the competition front, Evans said the ASA did not consider the one Olympic Games medal – a silver won by Caster Semenya – as an underachievement by the federation.

“We also consider the events where some of our athletes reached the final in the track events.”

On the continental performance, Evans said: “We are not number one in Africa, but we won more medals than we did the last time.”

With the Soweto Marathon on November 4 the final item in the local athletics calendar, Evans said the ASA would be just an oversight body for the event.

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