'Government has invested almost R27m in SA athletics in three years‚' says sports minister Nathi Mthethwa

02 September 2019 - 14:43 By David Isaacson
Minister of Sport Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa during then official activation of the 2019 Heritage Month Celebrations at the National Library of South Africa on August 02, 2019 in Pretoria.
Minister of Sport Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa during then official activation of the 2019 Heritage Month Celebrations at the National Library of South Africa on August 02, 2019 in Pretoria.
Image: Gallo Images/Frennie Shivambu

Athletics SA (ASA) has benefited from government funding to the tune of almost R27-million in the past three years‚ Sports‚ Arts and Culture minister Nathi Mthethwa said in a statement on Monday.

He said his department had paid R11‚47m for international events and nearly R8.7m for national and provincial events and R6.7m for skills development.

The statement said from 2017 to 2019‚ just under R27m “has been invested in ASA’s development initiatives”‚ which had attracted interest from around the world.

“The initiatives speak to an aligned development strategy aimed at the athletics body’s success at the Olympic Games‚” read the statement.

“Many countries in the world are now seeking guidance from ASA as to how to develop athletics in their countries and those countries are also sending athletes to participate in South African events‚ and/or training camps in South Africa to prepare for the Olympic Games.”

The ministry pointed to SA’s ranking of third in the world at senior level‚ sixth at under-20 junior and top at under-18.

The IAAF‚ the world governing body for athletics‚ scrapped the under-18 world championships after the 2017 edition.

Ironically‚ the minister’s statement was issued on the same day Wayde van Niekerk withdrew from the world championships that kick off in Doha late this month.

Without him and Caster Semenya‚ the SA team will struggle to win gold medals‚ which are critical to determining the world ranking the minister used in this statement.

Semenya‚ Van Niekerk and long-jumper Luvo Manyonga won SA’s three gold medals at the last showpiece at London 2017 that pushed them into third place.

Even Manyonga is not guaranteed victory this time around and if SA fail to win a gold‚ the team could drop outside the top 20.

“Athletics is a labour intensive sport which requires substantial resources to engage large quantities of athletes‚ coaches‚ officials and administrators at all levels of participation‚” Mthethwa said in the statement.

“With this in mind‚ the ASA development programme is an all-inclusive programme that funds expenses related to international competitions‚ national competitions and skills development projects to level the playing field and ensure that athletes from all communities has access to athletics.”

The ministry added that ASA had 300 athletes in squads across the various age-groups that were preparing for the 2020 and 2024 Olympics.

“On an annual basis the athletics association exposes more than two million athletes at the various levels of competition to a network of more than 1‚500 IAAF/ASA-certified competitions.”

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