Athletics SA has been in the news for all the right reasons recently. Daniel Mothowagae asks president Aleck Skhosana about the progress made during his tenure and what the future holds for the sporting code.
How would you rate your four years since occupying the hot seat at Athletics SA (ASA)?
It is not about Aleck because ASA is strong in the provinces. As a result, the ASA board has achieved many things against all odds when it looked like athletics was facing a bleak future.
Through our turnaround strategy, we were able to improve our rankings at senior, junior and youth levels in major competitions such as the IAAF World Championships, the Olympics and, most recently, our athletes were better prepared for the Commonwealth Games.
How difficult was it to convince people otherwise, given that there was a negative perception about you as a leader with the KwaZulu-Natal Athletics scandals often following you as the former president in that province?
If you are a leader, you must expect criticism as there will always be those who doubt you. We are not going to tell the media what to write about us.
Sometimes it doesn’t look okay even if someone receives praises one way. Constructive criticism can only help us to improve.
What is the financial state of ASA?
The other year, we were R300 000 better and this year we are R1 million better. So we are out of the red and we are currently building on the reserves so that we can have more money to spend on exposing our youth and junior talent to major events.
Why did we see sponsored one-day athletics meetings early this year, yet ASA’s premier events such as the senior championships still don’t have the backing of corporate companies?
We are working hard on that aspect with Stillwater Sports, the company we appointed [last year] to look after our commercial and marketing aspects.
We have to look again at our broadcasting rights because corporate companies are not interested if our events are not live on TV – the highlights package late at night is not working.
We are in talks with the SABC because our existing contract is not cast in stone. We hope to make an announcement regarding sponsorship before the end of the year.
Take us through the programmes that have been implemented under your tenure.
The first point was to build the structures and administration of ASA. We have implemented a number of projects such as coaches training, as well as the prioritisation of technical officials in our programmes.
In the process, we were able to deliver new meetings such as the Night Series and the Grand Prix.
We are already working on new competitions for next year – a triangular series and a test athletics meeting. We have been in discussions with our southern region colleagues, as well as with the Confederation of African Athletes to make sure these new innovations see the light of day for the development of our youth and junior athletes.
What is ASA’s relationship with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) after ASA challenged the international body’s new eligibility regulations for female classification seen to be targeting Caster Semenya?
Our relationship with the IAAF is cordial, but we are divided on the new regulations. We’ve got a constitutional obligation to challenge any rule that we believe is discriminatory. We have already filed the papers and the Court of Arbitration for Sport will decide.
To show there’s no bad blood between us, IAAF president Sebastian Coe asked me at the [recent] African Championships if ASA was interested in bidding for the next World Relays Championships because South Africa has the infrastructure.
How is ASA’s relationship with the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc). Your relationship in particular after you were controversially ousted from the board?
It is similar to the IAAF ... ASA has an obligation to take up matters that it believes are not applied properly as per the constitution.
I am part of Sascoc after the arbitrator ordered them to reinstate me as an additional board member.