Stars fume at ASA

24 July 2017 - 07:56 By David Isaacson
Sprint stars Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine.
Sprint stars Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine.
Image: Gallo Images

Sprint stars Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine have come out strongly against Athletics SA's selection criteria for the team for the world championships in London next month.

ASA has introduced qualifying standards tougher than the sport's world governing body, the IAAF.

ASA named a team of 24 on Friday, only six of whom had met the IAAF standard, while omitting 13 others, most of them Olympians.

Van Niekerk and Simbine, who both achieved the ASA standard, yesterday spoke out against this.

"It's all good and well when you want to groom talent but when there's an opportunity to help the talent grow you shut the door on them," tweeted Simbine.

Olympic 400m champion Van Niekerk added: "Too much talent, bro; selection should be our last worry. Guys work [too] hard for this type of rejection."

Teammates Sunette Viljoen and Jenna Challenor concurred.

 The federation had given the excluded athletes until yesterday to appeal, with president Aleck Skhosana saying the federation had to submit the team names to the IAAF by noon today, and athletes had until midnight yesterday to qualify.

The unlucky 13 include several Olympians: Henricho Bruintjies (100m), Rynardt van Rensburg (800m), Wayne Snyman (20km walk), 400m hurdlers Cornel Fredericks and LJ van Zyl, 200m sprinters Alyssa Conley and Justine Palframan, Dominique Scott (5000m) and Anel Oosthuizen (20km race walk).

Among those who made Team SA were women's marathon runners Challenor and Mapaseka Makhanya, picked on times they ran last year which ranked them outside the top 400 - lower than the rankings of those left out.

 Three of SA's African champions did not make the team - Claudia Heunis, Phil-Mar van Rensburg and Fredriech Pretorius (decathlon).

SA's strongest event this year was the men's 200m, with six athletes achieving ASA standards.

Van Niekerk, Simbine and Clarence Munyai booked their spots by virtue of being the three fastest, ahead of US-based Ncincilili Titi, Gift Leotlela and Lebokeng Sesele.

A seventh athlete, Hendrik Maartens, met the IAAF's qualifying standard.

Four beat ASA standards in the long jump, with 2008 Olympic silver medallist Khotso Mokoena losing out to Luvo Manyonga, Ruswahl Samaai and Zarck Visser. 

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