SA athletes face tough Olympic qualifying criteria

Johannesburg - South African athletes would have to meet stringent qualifying standards to be selected for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) announced here on Wednesday.

SASCOC chief executive Tubby Reddy revealed on Wednesday that none of the federations with the exception of men’s and women’s football teams would gain selection through continental qualification.

Although football has been spared the arduous passage through global events they have been set the target of winning their respective African Under-23 Championships.

“Football is the only sport where continental qualification is considered because that is the only qualification process that is being allowed between FIFA and the IOC,” Reddy said.

“The team must finish first at the Under-23 CAF Championships qualification and the team must be ranked first on the continent.”

Reddy added that SASCOC had not deviated from the International Federations and International Olympic Committee policies and qualification system other than not considering the continental slots.

South African track and field athletes have already entered the qualifying window as they will have to meet the standard between May 1, 2015 and July 11, 2016.

They would, however, have to prove their level of readiness at the 2016 Senior Athletics Championships which would be considered the Olympic trials.

The nation’s swimmers will have a steep hill to climb to gain selection for the Olympics as they would have to attain the Fina A-qualifying time at next year’s 2015 South African National Championships.

Reddy said athletes that could not make the national trials for whatever reason would be thrown a lifeline and would be treated on a case-by-case basis.

“We are saying that they should be there participating, however, if there is any other reason (why and athlete cannot make it) we will have to engage with the national federation and look at the best possible solution,” Reddy said.

“But it is not cast in stone but based on the circumstances.”

SASCOC president Gideon Sam said the federations have all agreed to the selection criteria which specified that there would be no continental qualification route.

“The presidents of all the federations have all signed on the dotted line confirming the criteria for the cycle ending in 2016,” Sam said.

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