Last week, Athletics South Africa (ASA) announced the official team list for the upcoming IAAF World Championships.
However, the announcement was met with discontent as various athletes who had met IAAF qualifying standards were left out of the official team selection. According to Danie Cornelius, the head of TuksAtheltics, twelve UP athletes who had met IAAF standards were omitted form the final list. This includes in-form athletes such as Henricho Bruintjies, Wayne Snyman, Lebogang Shange, LJ van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks.
ASA president Aleck Skhosana explained that the tougher ASA standards were based on getting better results and argued that SA athletes, when compared with athletes around the world, would rank 18th on the IAAF scale, therefore stricter selection criteria were put in place.
ASA released a document in order to explain their decision-making procedure regarding certain athletes. ASA argued that 100m sprinter Henricho Bruintjies, who has had a season’s best of 10.06 seconds, would need 9.99 seconds to qualify for the semi-final round in the Championships. However, during World Championships in 2015, he qualified for the semi-finals with a time of 10.07 seconds. Additionally, ASA argued that three South African athletes ranked above Bruintjies and therefore there was no available spot for him. However, since Wayde Van Niekerk would not be competing in the 100m, the spot should technically be available. In terms of LJ van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks, ASA claimed that Sokwakhana Zazini was faster than the two seasoned hurdlers. However, since the young Zanzini races over lower-hurdles, his times should be expected to be faster.
Some athletes took to Twitter to voice their selection concerns, UP record-breaking sprinter, Akani Simbine, one of the chosen few on the ASA list, tweeted “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”.
Cornelius said that although TuksAthletics was disappointed that UP athletes that had met the criteria to participate in the Championships were not selected by ASA, they are very excited about the seven athletes that were included with “potential medal winners amongst them”. He added that “all of us, including those that were not selected, [wish] them well and will be in front of our TV sets cheering them on”.
Besides Simbine, six other UP and HPC sponsored athletes will be representing South Africa at the World Championships. This includes 400m hurdler Wenda Nel, shot-putter Orazio Cremona, long jumper and Olympic silver medallist Luvo Manyango and 100m sprinters Clarence Munyai, Thando Roto and Carina Horn.
The IAAF World Championship will take place in London from 4 to 13 August.