Criteria stay the same

2012-05-19 19:32

Coaches, experts slam ‘harsh’ Olympic qualification

National sports federations can brace themselves for the same stringent qualifying criteria for the 2016 Olympic Games.

This is according to a draft of criteria presented by a South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) task team during the president’s council last weekend.

Sascoc president Gideon Sam said a generic policy has been formulated and will be endorsed at the Olympic governing body’s annual general meeting in August.

“There were no dramatic changes to the criteria,” said Sam, whose federation has come under attack from some track and field athletes as well as coaches for the current qualification policy that requires athletes to fulfil the Olympic A-standards twice.

He said: “The president’s council meeting debated it and the presidents (of the federations) agreed with the criteria set.

“It will be endorsed at our AGM in Mpumalanga later this year.”

The criteria will apply during the qualification for next year’s World Games in Cali, Colombia; the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland; the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi, Russia;the 2015 All Africa Games in Congo-Brazzaville and the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In the athletics programme, the requirement excludes the marathon and race walks, where athletes are allowed to fulfil the criteria once – in an international event.

Some athletes and coaches City Press interviewed last weekend also expressed dissatisfaction at the way the criteria were communicated to athletes.

Athletics South Africa (ASA) insisted that the message was filtered through to its 17 provinces in advance.

Some coaches slammed the qualification policy, saying it was harsh for up-and-coming athletes to achieve their qualifying marks twice and then be expected to perform at their best if they qualify for the Games.

Even sports science experts have joined in the debate on whether qualifying twice was the way to go (see opinion piece).

However, Sam said the latest criteria were open for debate and any communication problems should be rectified.

“I hear some athletes are saying they were not properly informed of the current qualifying criteria. Maybe there’s another way of communicating the criteria. We will look at the option of putting the criteria on community media platforms as well as on the federations’ websites.”

ASA president James Evans said they were happy with the criteria for the next quadrennial.

“We only raised a few concerns on the wording of certain aspects, such as when the criteria say athletes must be in the top bracket of the continent or the world, without really being sport specific,” said Evans.

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