Athletics

Viljoen blames Sascoc for tiff with Mbalula

Sunette Viljoen (AFP)
Sunette Viljoen (AFP)

Johannesburg - South African javelin queen Sunette Viljoen lay the blame for a Twitter confrontation with Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula on Wednesday at the feet of the Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc).

The world bronze medallist took to the popular social media platform to voice her concern about what she thought was a snub from a function where athletes received rewards for performances in 2015.

Athletes received prize cheques at Wednesday morning’s The New Age Business Breakfast in Johannesburg where fellow world 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk and 200m bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana were, among others, honoured.

Van Niekerk was awarded R50 000 for his world-class performance at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, while Jobodwana and 800m athlete Caster Semenya each received R20 000.

Viljoen seemed to have been overlooked for any kind of recognition despite her bronze-medal effort.

Semenya in turn have been battling with form this season crashing out in the semi-finals in Beijing while she bounced back with a gold medal at the Africa Games in Brazzaville, Congo earlier this month.

Viljoen initially responded with a tweet that read: “So I have been snubbed yet again from getting a cent for my hard work. This time by @MbalulaFikile. At least I'm getting used to it now.”

While Mbalula went on the offensive he said Viljoen had been invited to the invited like the other athletes that attended the event.

“You @Sunette_Viljoen along with the athletes you saw were invited. Your hard work is recognized and there wasn’t any snubbing,” Mbalula tweeted.

In another response, he assured Viljoen she would receive her monetary reward.

“R20 000 cheque awaits, you’re a great athlete. We trust now that you now will receive something you will come getit, he said.

Viljoen later replied she had not received an invitation from Sascoc and blamed the Olympic body for the misunderstanding.

Earlier this month the two-time world bronze medallist lashed out at Sascoc in a newspaper column about the way it treated athletes on the Operation Excellence (Opex) top tier funding programme.

Sascoc has since responded with a press release where it expressed their disappointment by Viljoen’s public criticism of the sports body and said she should have approached them directly with any complaints.

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