'SA failing future champions'

Governing body must pick full-strength teams, says Caster Semenya's coach

15 August 2017 - 05:13 By David Isaacson
Caster Semenya celebrates winning gold in the women’s 800m final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London.
Caster Semenya celebrates winning gold in the women’s 800m final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London.
Image: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Caster Semenya contributed richly to South Africa's medal haul in London, but already her coach is wondering about the country's new generation of stars.

Jean Verster believes picking full-strength teams - which Athletics SA did not do for this world championship - is an important step in grooming the future heroes.

Superstars Semenya and Wayde van Niekerk won two medals each, with long-jumpers Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai delivering the other two as South Africa banked a record six gongs. Lebo Shange finished fourth in the 20km walk and Akani Simbine fifth in the 100m. And then a gap.

"It would be nice if we had more placings as well and, looking at it critically, we need to look at the next generation," said Verster.

"We've got a few stars now, but we've got to ensure that the new bunch comes through as well.

"I think that's what we've done pretty well over the past decade . getting youngsters exposed to these type of championships."

The likes of Van Niekerk and Simbine failed to progress past the heats at their first world championships in Moscow in 2013.

"I believe we should have brought as many as possible and the guys who stayed behind should have been here," said Verster, referring to the 14 athletes omitted from the team because of ASA's stringent selection policy.

The 14 had all achieved the qualifying standards set down by the world governing body, the IAAF, but had fallen short of the stiffer marks imposed by the federation.

ASA insisted they would not have advanced to the semifinals or made the top 16.

But of the 14 athletes, seven produced performances this season that were better than the qualifying times for semifinals or 16th-placed finishers in London.

In deciding to leave those athletes out, ASA erroneously calculated standards far tougher than actually required to make semifinals or finish in the top 16.

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