Never mind the Sascoc-ups, Athletics SA is just as useless

Sport

Never mind the Sascoc-ups, Athletics SA is just as useless

Thanks to the sports bodies we are woefully unprepared for next month’s Commonwealth Games

Journalist

Athletics South Africa have scored a hattrick, but it’s not one they should.  
For the third time in a row, ASA have bungled selection criteria for a major event, the latest being for the Commonwealth Games next month. 
Strike one: the brains trust of local track and field had wanted to introduce extra-tough qualifying standards for the Rio Olympics in 2016 – some six months before the Games. But they were luckily beaten back on that point, mainly because the criteria had already been signed off. 
However, they still managed to leave Akani Simbine out of the men’s 200m, where the sprinter might have had a medal shot. 
Strike two: ASA introduced the extra-tough standards for the 2017 world championships and as a result omitted 14 athletes who had met the internationally accepted criteria. 
Strike three: to get to the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, next month, ASA decreed that athletes would have to attain reasonable qualifying standards in an unreasonable qualifying window, from August 1 to December 31 2017.Given that the season ends in September, and that’s when athletes go into heavy training that leaves their bodies ill-prepared for competition, it’s a window that made no sense. 
It certainly wasn’t fair on the 14 athletes who were left home last year, because they didn’t have the advantage of competing at the world championships in August. 
Local administrators have argued that names of Commonwealth athletes had to be in early for visas, but the deadline for that was March. 
The point is that several athletes were unable to qualify in the window period set, even though some achieved the standards before August 1. 
And a few who are not scheduled to go to Australia have done well so far this season, showing that their omissions was an error. They are proof that ASA’s criteria were, once again, flawed.And most of the aggrieved athletes are women. Just three were named in SA’s 20-strong track and field team for Commonwealth Games – Caster Semenya, Wenda Nel and Sunette Viljoen.
But another three have been in cracking form, as recently as the national championships last weekend.Carina Horn finally broke the 11.06sec SA 100m mark she had shared with Evette de Klerk, and Justine Palframan delivered two excellent times in the 200m and 400m finals, just 45 minutes apart. 
Last month Dominique Scott cracked two national indoor records. 
The trio will all be in action at the final Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix in Paarl on Thursday night. 
While on the topic of poor selections, it’s worth mentioning the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) here. 
They are responsible for sending teams to multi-sport events like Commonwealth and the Olympics. 
They insist the actual selection is done by the national federations and that they can’t interfere. When Simbine wasn’t picked for the 200m, Sascoc responded by saying it was ASA. 
But a curious thing happened recently in court, where rhythmic gymnast Shannon Gardiner is fighting her exclusion from the Commonwealth Games team. 
During argument the Sascoc advocate mentioned that the SA Gymnastics Federation used one ranking system, and Sascoc used another. Sascoc, presumably, had got its way in the case of gymnastics. 
What a pity administrators don’t have to fulfil qualifying standards based on good performance.

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