Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
13 Mar 2014
6:00 am

SA team denied their big chance

Wesley Botton

South Africa's top cross country runners were dealt another blow yesterday when the national federation confirmed it would not send a team to this weekend's continental championships.

File photo. Picture: AFP.

Athletics South Africa’s (ASA) ad hoc committee said the cash-strapped organisation could not cover the costs of sending the 24-member squad to the African Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda on Sunday.

“As the necessary funds could not be acquired in time, the committee was compelled to make the decision that the SA cross country team will not participate in the CAA Africa Championships,” committee chairman Daan du Toit said in a statement.

The former ASA interim board, which stepped down after a visit from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) last month, held national trials in Pretoria in January.

A 24-member team was subsequently selected for the Southern Region Cross Country Championships, scheduled to be held in Potchefstroom last month.

The country, however, lost the regional hosting rights due to confusion around the ASA leadership and the event was cancelled.

The same 24 athletes were then chosen to compete in Kampala, and Du Toit said the newly appointed administration had tried in vain to find a last-minute financial solution, but called it quits on Tuesday.

Du Toit remained confident that teams to other major events would not be affected.

While national federations are responsible for the costs of sending teams to the continental championships, organised by the Confederation of Athletics, travel costs to global events, including the World Half-Marathon Championships in Copenhagen later this month, are covered by the IAAF.

“The committee apologises for any inconvenience cause by this late announcement,” Du Toit said.

The national athletics body, rocked by corruption and in-fighting in recent years, has not had a major corporate sponsor since the 2012 season.

The ASA ad hoc committee was put in place last month to stabilise the sport and prepare for general elections in May.