Comrades Marathon champ slams ASA

2018-07-04 16:29
2018 Comrades Marathon winner Ann Ashworth has turned down the chance to represent South Africa at the 100km World Championships  in Croatia in September.

2018 Comrades Marathon winner Ann Ashworth has turned down the chance to represent South Africa at the 100km World Championships in Croatia in September. (Gallo)

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Comrades Marathon champion Ann Ashworth has declined selection to run in the World 100km Championships, criticising Athletics South Africa for not supporting developing athletes, and calling on other runners to make a stand on how funds are spent.

Ashworth coasted to an unexpected win in this year’s Comrades in a time of 6:10:04.

As a result, the 32-year-old athlete was named in the South African team to take part at the World Championships in Croatia in September, prompting her to criticise the national athletics body for their lack of support for road runners.

In a series of tweets, Ashworth said: “The silence emanating from my fellow elite athletes and the pro teams I’m fighting for is absolutely deafening. I will stand alone if I have to. #StandUp

“If anything is to change athletes need to stand and be counted. ASA leadership have actively sought to limit private funding of clubs and channel funding toward ASA. That’s a step too far.

“It’s not about being rewarded for my selection to the team. It’s about ASA channeling funding into the development of athletes over time so that they can be selected to represent their country. Without support very few athletes have the means to reach their full potential.

“I’ll fight for what I believe in. What you fight for or against is your own prerogative.

“If ASA cared about its athletes you would see more development athletes moving up through the ranks. There must be change.

“There is a long and complex history to this matter, the point here being that running world champs is the tip of the iceberg. My stand is for a principled purpose and to benefit the sport generally. That far outweighs any personal benefit.”

In declining the invitation, she tweeted: “Thanks @ASAathletics but until you actually start doing something to assist road runners in our country with funding and other support I’m not happy to compete in SA colours #nosupport #notworking #notbeingused.

Three-time Comrades winner and 2018 champion Bongumusa Mthembu, who hails from the Midlands, is included in the men’s 100km squad.

ASA had not responded to Ashworth’s criticism at the time of going to press.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  comrades marathon

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