Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
16 Nov 2017
3:09 pm

Athletics SA risk losing youngsters with crazy criteria

Wesley Botton

The local federation is trying to raise the bar for Tokyo 2020 qualification but they've totally overdone it for next year's U-20 worlds.

Junior athletes will have to break Tebogo Masehla's 3000m steeplechase record just to achieve an 'A' standard time. Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images.

Sticking to their guns, despite receiving widespread criticism for their selection decisions this year, Athletics South Africa (ASA) has now dangled a carrot so far ahead of the nation’s top junior athletes that most won’t even get a bite.

In line with the federation’s policy, as part of a long-term plan in the build-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the national body released stringent qualifying criteria on Thursday for next year’s World U-20 Championships in Tampere.

While ASA also included the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) criteria, listed as ‘B’ standards, they were more likely to focus on the far tougher domestic ‘A’ standards in their attempt to raise the bar by selecting potential finalists and medal contenders.

A large provisional squad was announced, but the final team was likely to be far smaller.

These are some of the reasons why:

  • In eight disciplines (two for men and six for women), athletes will need to break the national junior records to simply qualify for the biennial age group showpiece.
  • In the women’s 3 000m steeplechase, any prospective athletes will need to break Tebogo Masehla’s SA senior record of 9:54.19 in order to achieve the ‘A’ standard of 9:53.70.
  • In both the men’s and women’s 10 000m walk events, the national junior records will need to be shattered by more than two minutes for an athlete to get the nod.
  • In the decathlon, hopeful athletes must add 40 points to the national junior record of 7689, which was set by Fredriech Pretorius when he finished seventh at the World U-20 Championships in Eugene three years ago.
  • The ‘A’ standard in the men’s 10 000m (28:52.80) is less than two seconds outside the SA junior record held my Meck Mothuli, one of the greatest young distance runners the country has ever produced and a former winner of the world junior half-marathon title.

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