Farewell to a ‘walk­ing ath­let­ics en­cy­clopae­dia’

CityPress - - Sport - SAM RAM­SAMY sports@city­press.co.za

He said: “A panel has al­ready been formed and it’s just that we are busy with team se­lec­tions for next year. The CEO job needs peo­ple with the know-how, and I am told the re­sponse was mainly peo­ple with quite an im­pres­sive back­ground in sports ad­min­is­tra­tion. I can’t be an ex­pert on ev­ery­thing; we need some­one for the day-to­day run­ning of the of­fice.”

Though Skhosana did not give a time­line on when his of­fice would shift its fo­cus in ap­point­ing a CEO, time is not on its side, as he and his board have only un­til af­ter next year’s Olympic Games to con­clude their term in of­fice.

Skhosana and his board were elected to serve the re­main­der of the ten­ure left half­way by ousted pres­i­dent James Evans in the af­ter­math of the lead­er­ship squab­bles that led to in­ter­ven­tion by the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions in June last year. Banele Sin­dani was one of the first track and field ath­letes to con­tact me in 1991 af­ter my re­turn from ex­ile.

He and Thu­lani Sibisi (the 1986 Two Oceans Marathon cham­pion) reg­u­larly briefed me on de­vel­op­ments in ath­let­ics in the coun­try.

The racial sit­u­a­tion in ath­let­ics was then highly ir­reg­u­lar, with white dom­i­na­tion preva­lent in all sec­tors.

In the early stages of cre­at­ing unity in our coun­try’s ath­let­ics, Banele par­tic­i­pated in as­sem­bling a team for South African ath­let­ics’ first out­ing, when a home-grown team com­peted in an in­ter­na­tional event sanc­tioned by the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions.

Born in 1955, Sin­dani be­came the first CEO of the re­formed South African ath­let­ics body, later to be named Ath­let­ics SA (ASA).

He was the ath­let­ics man­ager of the South African Olympic team that par­tic­i­pated in the 1996 Olympic Games in At­lanta in the US.

Two mem­bers of the ath­let­ics di­vi­sion, Josia Thug­wane and Hezekiel Sepeng, added a gold and sil­ver, re­spec­tively, to South Africa’s over­all to­tal of five medals, with con­tri­bu­tions from swim­mers Penny Heyns (two gold) and Mar­i­anne Kriel (one bronze).

In 2005, Banele be­came CEO of the re­for­mu­lated SA Sports Con­fed­er­a­tion and Olympic Com­mit­tee (Sas­coc). He later re­signed and re­turned to ath­let­ics, be­com­ing the CEO of the ASA.

Sin­dani was largely in­stru­men­tal in es­tab­lish­ing the peo­ple’s race – the Soweto Marathon. He was greatly ad­mired for his pas­sion and com­mit­ment to ath­let­ics, both in South Africa and abroad.

Prior to the ar­rival of Sepeng in South African mid­dle-dis­tance run­ning, there was a con­cern that the coun­try’s ath­letes were shy­ing away from the 800m and 1 500m events be­cause of mass team in­tim­i­da­tion from Ethiopian and Kenyan ath­letes in in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions.

Banele helped to reestab­lish South African in­ter­est in these events.

Thanks to this, we saw some for­mi­da­ble in­ter­na­tional per­for­mances from our ath­letes in these events in the years that fol­lowed.

Ad­mi­ra­tion for Banele in­creased tremen­dously due to his amaz­ing sta­tis­ti­cal knowl­edge of South African and in­ter­na­tional ath­let­ics.

He could re­call world records and in­ter­na­tional rank­ings with­out blink­ing an eye­lid. He was a walk­ing en­cy­clopae­dia of ath­let­ics.

There is no doubt that our sport will find it­self in a vac­uum af­ter his tragic death, when he was shot by rob­bers who in­vaded his house in the early hours of Tues­day

Sin­dani was largely in­stru­men­tal in es­tab­lish­ing the peo­ple’s race – the Soweto Marathon. He was greatly ad­mired for his pas­sion and com­mit­ment to ath­let­ics...

morn­ing. Rest in peace, Banele!

Ram­samy is a mem­ber of the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee and sat on its com­mis­sion eval­u­at­ing the

bids for the 2012 Olympic Games

PHOTO: GALLO IM­AGES

UN­TIMELY Banele Sin­dani was look­ing to take the reins at the ASA again, but he was killed by bur­glars in a shoot­ing at his home

FIT­TING TRIB­UTE Iconic sports ad­min­is­tra­tor Sam Ram­samy

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