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Fri May 26 22:38:31 SAST 2017

Sascoc announces major departure from the standards they set for Commonwealth and Olympic Games

David Isaacson | 2017-05-15 16:55:25.0
This is a major departure from the stringent standards Sascoc has set for Commonwealth and Olympic Games since Gideon Sam became Sascoc president in 2008. File photo
Image by: Gallo Images

Qualifying standards for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia will be lowered for South Africa’s athletes‚ SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) CEO Tubby Reddy says.

To get to the 2014 showpiece in Glasgow‚ Sascoc stipulated that individuals and teams across all codes had to be ranked in the top five of the Commonwealth‚ but that will be reduced to top 10 for Gold Coast 2018.

More than 6600 athletes from 70 nations are expected to compete in 275 medal events across 23 sporting disciplines from April 4-15.

This is a major departure from the stringent standards Sascoc has set for Commonwealth and Olympic Games since Gideon Sam became Sascoc president in 2008.

Taking a bigger team to Australia became an important consideration after Durban was awarded the 2022 Commonwealth Games‚ with the idea being to blood as many youngsters ahead of the home Games.

But even with the city having lost the right to stage the event‚ the notion of a bigger squad has stuck.

“When we were supposed to host the 2022 Games‚ Gideon’s idea was that we should have a bigger team‚ broaden the base‚” Reddy said on Monday at a function celebrating the arrival of the Queen’s Baton in Johannesburg as it makes its way around the Commonwealth to Gold Coast. It won’t go to Durban‚ by the way.

“The thinking is to keep it [the qualifying criteria] still broad. I think the idea was to give more people a chance to qualify and participate at that level.”

Reddy said Sascoc’s membership‚ which comprises national federations‚ ultimately decided qualifying standards‚ adding he expected a “more robust” debate over the Tokyo 2020 Olympic standards.

For the Rio Games‚ sports like hockey‚ boxing‚ archery‚ modern pentathlon‚ women’s rugby sevens and fencing stayed home‚ even though they had qualified using lesser standards not deemed acceptable by Sascoc.

The presidents of the individual federations had signed qualifying agreements with Sascoc.

“People are starting to realise that you can’t come and say ‘Sascoc decided’ — it’s a joint signatory‚” said Reddy.

“And I think where federations have been guilty is they have not consulted with their own membership.”

Reddy said federations would in future have to show they had a mandate.

“One of the additional things we’re asking for now‚ when you come to sign the policy‚ you must show us minutes of the meetings that you’ve had‚ attendance registers‚ to show that it comes from the membership so that an athlete doesn’t say ‘but he [the federation’s president] had no right to sign‚ nobody discussed it with us’.”

“And that’s been the grouch for a number of athletes previously.”

Sascoc is being sued by fencer Juliana Barrett for more than R5.5-million for not selecting her last year.

While some federations might not have communicated with their members properly‚ Sascoc itself has failed at basic mathematics — somehow ending up with 15 board members instead of the maximum of 14 as allowed by the constitution.

“The board is tasked with reducing from 15 to 14‚” said Reddy‚ adding that the one to be cut would be one of the co-opted members.

- TMG Digital/TMG Sport

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