Athletics South Africa has named a 20-member national team to the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda on 26 March, 2017.
The quality of the team, however, has not pleased the national federation who have decided to address what it deems a serious challenge through a National Cross Country Symposium to be held prior to the start of the 2017 Domestic Cross Country Season.
“During this Symposium, the ASA family will strategise how to improve the quality of the performances of Cross Country athletes in South Africa,” said Aleck Skhosana, the President of ASA.
“ASA has set itself the goal of improving the 5th position ranking at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, which was achieved at the Rio Olympics last year. In order to achieve this objective, however, the standard in all athletics disciplines must improve.
“Cross country must play its part and contribute. In the build-up to the Championships in Kampala, ASA provided competition opportunities, among others, on the track to the ASA National Cross Country Squad.
“These Objectives were given to the athletes to demonstrate their readiness to represent South Africa with honour. These objectives set in the ASA Selection Criteria, compared favourably with the 50th position on the 2016 IAAF World Ranking List.
“But not one of the athletes on the ASA National Cross Country Squad managed to achieve these objectives. ASA has therefore decided not to enter any individual for the 2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championships. Instead, ASA will enter a team of five athletes each in all four of the categories in Senior Men, Senior Women, Junior Men and Junior Women. “
The Senior Men include African Championships 5 000m silver medallist Elroy Gelant, who finished a respectable 20th at the 2013 edition of the biennial showpiece in Bydgoszcz.
He will be well supported in the 10km race by Thabang Mosiako, Joel Mmone, David Manja and Precious Mashele.
While the Senior Women’s team will be without some of the country’s elite stars, the likes of in-form athlete Kesa Molotsane and experienced campaigner Louisa Leballo, also competing in the 10km, will look to carry the national flag with pride.
The SA team also includes 10 of South Africa’s most promising distance runners who will turn out in the Junior Men’s 8km and Junior Women’s 6km events.
“We trust that the 4 teams will take this opportunity seriously and compete as a team. We wish the national team well in their attempt to raise the bar in Kampala.”