Athletics SA (ASA) will offer contracts to top athletes ahead of next year’s Olympic Games and IAAF World Junior Championships.
This was one of the resolutions made at the ASA council meeting last weekend.
“Our view is that 2016 is the year of the Olympics and the junior champs. It’s a matter of helping our athletes to prepare and race smart ahead of these competitions,” said ASA president Aleck Skhosana.
Despite the federation operating on a limited budget that is made up of the SABC broadcast rights deal and licence fees, Skhosana was less bothered when quized about where the money would come from.
“Contracting athletes doesn’t necessarily mean money. We’ll spend the little we have, as we have done in the past, by sending our teams to international competitions despite the financial challenges.”
Skhosana said the initiative would complement the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee’s Operation Excellence programme, which offers financial, medical and scientific support to a selected group of potential medallists.
Athletes who are not part of the programme and those who have financial constraints get support through the national academy support programme.
Skhosana said: “Our duty is to make sure that we have a pool of athletes – senior and junior – with the potential to represent South Africa at the highest level.”
He said ASA coaches, the commissions and the selectors will be tasked with picking the athletes.
Meanwhile, last weekend’s council meeting also ratified the 2016 domestic calendar.
Among the key events, the SA Senior Track and Field Championships will run in Stellenbosch, Western Cape, in April, while Durban will host the African Senior Championships in June.
Skhosana said these two events were a must for local athletes if they were to stand a chance to be selected for the athletics team that will go to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August.
The Junior World Championships take place in Kazan, Russia, in July