Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
14 Aug 2017
8:39 pm

The good and the bad of SA at the IAAF World Champs

Wesley Botton

Credit must go to the athletes for their medal haul, yet it is once again the administrators that have to get a thumbs-down.

Wayde van Niekerk represented all that was good about South Africa in London. Photo: Roger Sedres/ImageSA/Gallo Images.

The 2017 IAAF World Championships delivered a number of records for the SA team.

The national squad’s campaign was also rocked by controversy before it even got off the ground.

Here’s a breakdown of the key moments, both good and bad.


The athletes – Six medals, including three gold. Hands down the best performance by South Africa at the biennial showpiece since the country’s debut in 1993. The previous best haul was in Paris in 2003 where the squad scooped four medals with two gold.

The kit – Credit must be given where it’s due, and the SA team looked both flashy and professional, no doubt boosting the team’s morale. Far better than the flop we saw at last year’s Olympic Games. High five to Athletics South Africa for getting this right.

The hosts – England boasts some of the world’s most knowledgeable athletics fans, and they showed it. Aside from booing controversial 100m champion Justin Gatlin of the United States, and supporting British 800m drama queen Lynsey Sharp, the packed crowd really was great, and they got behind the athletes throughout the 10-day spectacle.

The bad

ASA selection – This caused all sorts of controversy in the build-up after the national federation showed apparent favouritism in its bizarre selections. They will try and take credit for the medals, but most of the B-qualifiers they selected were hardly spectacular, and many they left behind could have made finals, based on the results. We’re not letting it go ASA. You messed this up completely.

Van Niekerk v Makwala – An issue involving a virus and UK health regulations was elevated to such a ridiculous state of sensationalism, none of it really made any sense. Two of the best sprinters in the world were eventually involved in a public spat caused by a former superstar (Michael Johnson) and it left a bad taste in everyone’s mouths. It could have been handled a whole lot better.

Semenya debate – No matter where she goes, Caster Semenya is followed by a debate around hyperandrogenism, an issue over which she has no control. When a decision is made about the IAAF’s rule, we’ll know more about how it affects Semenya. Until then, the world should leave our golden girl alone.

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