Agent calls ASA a bunch of clowns over poor plan­ning

CityPress - - Sport - SIMNIKIWE XABANISA sports@city­

Wayde van Niek­erk’s agent has branded Ath­let­ics SA (ASA) a bunch of clowns for their role in the de­vel­op­ing im­passe over whether the coun­try’s top sprint­ers will at­tend the na­tional cham­pi­onships or the world re­lay cham­pi­onships late next month.

The SA Se­nior Na­tional Cham­pi­onships are sched­uled to take place in Potchef­stroom on April 21 and 22, which is the same week­end the IAAF’s World Re­lay Cham­pi­onships will take place in the Ba­hamas.

ASA, whose plan­ning – or lack thereof – scup­pered the pos­si­bil­ity of South Africa en­ter­ing a 4x100m re­lay team at the Olympics in Rio last year, ap­pears to be over­com­pen­sat­ing by in­sist­ing that the coun­try’s lead­ing sprint­ers skip the na­tional champs in favour of the re­lays.

But the ath­letes – four of whom have run the 100m in less than 10 sec­onds and three hav­ing run sub-20s for the 200m – are keen to turn up in Potch to race one another in what prom­ises to be the most hotly con­tested na­tional ti­tles in the his­tory of South African sprint­ing, so they’ve started move­ment on Twit­ter – #Fil­lUpPotch – to gen­er­ate hype for the event.

An irate Peet van Zyl, who rep­re­sents Van Niek­erk, Akani Sim­bine, Hen­ri­cho Bru­in­tjies and 110m hur­dler An­to­nio Alkana, crit­i­cised ASA for in­di­cat­ing that it ex­pects the se­lected ath­letes to be in the Ba­hamas in­stead.

“They cry be­cause they can’t find spon­sors, but when th­ese boys [sprint­ers] want to put to­gether a good 100m and 200m event to at­tract spon­sors, they refuse. No­body’s go­ing to wake up at 2am to watch the world re­lays – only very com­mit­ted ath­let­ics fans will do that,” he said.

“But ev­ery­one wants to watch th­ese boys race – just imag­ine the press con­fer­ence ahead of the na­tional champs af­ter all their ban­ter on Twit­ter. How can ASA say the na­tional champs is a small meet­ing? They’re a bunch of clowns.”

Van Zyl was re­spond­ing to ASA pres­i­dent Aleck Skhosana’s re­marks on eNCA re­cently, where he said: “Those ath­letes who are iden­ti­fied and those who are con­firmed will be ex­pected to rep­re­sent the coun­try and skip the SA champs.

“ASA doesn’t pre­pare ath­letes for the SA champs. Ath­letes al­ways want to be where it’s easy to ex­cel ... the coun­try comes be­fore prov­inces or a small com­pe­ti­tion like the SA champs.”

The burn­ing ques­tion about the clash of dates is why it was al­lowed to hap­pen in the first place.

“We told ASA in Novem­ber al­ready that it must con­sider mov­ing the na­tional champs,” said Van Zyl. “It could have moved the na­tional champs for­ward and se­lected the best guys from there to run in the world re­lays.

“The IAAF couldn’t be­lieve it when I told it we have na­tion­als on the same day as the world re­lay champs.”

Asked what rea­son ASA – whose pres­i­dent did not re­spond to City Press’ calls for com­ment on the sit­u­a­tion – had given for not chang­ing the date of the na­tional champs, Van Zyl said it had not given one, de­spite be­ing told in “Novem­ber al­ready that my guys would not be avail­able”.

Van Zyl also said he did not know what ASA’s re­ac­tion would be to­wards ath­letes who passed up the trip to the Ba­hamas to go to Potch.

Should the top sprint­ers go to the Ba­hamas in the end, about half of the na­tional champs’ pro­gramme would be im­pov­er­ished, qual­ity wise, with the 100m, 200m, 400m sprints and the 400m hur­dles fields af­fected. The women’s 800m would also be af­fected as Caster Se­menya is ex­pected to run a leg of the 4x400m re­lay.

For ex­am­ple, if ev­ery­thing was to go ac­cord­ing to plan, the 100m fi­nal would fea­ture Sim­bine (9.89), new­comer Thando Roto (9.95), Bru­in­tjies (9.97), Van Niek­erk (9.98), Anaso Jo­bod­wana (10.10) and young­sters Gift Leotlela (10.12) and Clarence Mun­yai (10.20).

The de­vel­op­ing spat will over­shadow what has been a sen­sa­tional do­mes­tic sea­son.

This sea­son has seen long jumper Luvo Many­onga smash the South Africa and Africa records with his 8.62m jump; Sim­bine go sub-20 (19.95) in the 200m; Roto be­come the fifth South African to run a sub-10 for the 100m; Leotlela be­come the South African ju­nior record holder (10.12); and 17-year-old Sok­wakhana Zazini set a new Un­der-18 world record in the 400m

hur­dles (48.84).


DE­FI­ANT Hen­ri­cho Bru­in­tjies DE­FI­ANT Akani Sim­bine DE­FI­ANT An­to­nio Alkana


AGI­TATED Peet van Zyl (left) with Wayde van Niek­erk and coach Ans Botha. Van Zyl has taken a swipe at Ath­let­ics SA

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