South African long jumper and African champion Ruswahl Samaai tells Eyewitness News Sport that Athletics South Africa (ASA) has not contacted athletes about the South African Athletics Championships supposed to be held in April this year.
ASA is yet to confirm venues, dates and scheduling with members and Samaai claims this has been the case for the past few months.
“The past couple of months we have not received anything from the federation whatsoever regarding the National Champs. A lot of athletes are still waiting and trying to plan around it.”
— Ruswahl Samaai , OLY (@RuswahlSamaai) January 14, 2019
Samaai comes off a bumper 2018 where he was crowned African and IAAF Continental Cup champion while he took bronze at the Commonwealth Games – he is one part of a superb South African double act in the long jump scene alongside countrymen Luvo Manyonga.
Samaai says athletes cannot plan their season because of ASA’s management and planning of the nation’s primary athletics event. He said the delays have even bigger implications on those based abroad.
“Most of the athletes based in the USA are trying to figure out where the national champs are going to be because they are trying to book flights and also try to find accommodation for themselves. So now they have no idea when or what’s going to happen.”
Samaai adds that planning transportation and travel around April can be a costly affair if not given the necessary time to plan ahead.
“It [SA Champs] is always based around April, April is the Passover weekend and if you look at flights, it’s expensive. Now you have to look at flights as well as accommodations for 50 to 100 athletes, how much money is that going to cost them?”
For a showpiece event like the national champs, Samaai said the competition is made up of more than just the athletes.
“You have to take into consideration again the accommodation for officials and the travelling time from the hotel to the track, which is also an important aspect.”
“I don’t think our federation is actually taking into consideration how the athletes and the provinces are going to cope with budgets because they also need planning.”
For athletes hoping to plan their events to peak at the right moment this season, ASA is doing them a disservice, according to Samaai.
“Planning is very important, not just for us but the coaches and the agents as well so they can find out how they will adapt to the season and where they going to open up the season and where they can perform, and also qualify for World Champs and Olympics.”
Meanwhile, ASA CEO Richard Stander contradicts Samaai by telling EWN SPORT they are waiting for the athletes and coaches to provide feedback on a scheduling issue.
“There are many factors, athletes have asked for the programme to be rescheduled because the relays need to be a reshuffled, we are in the process of doing that.”
“The coaches and athletes must give us a response on that before we can release anything. That’s the delay.”
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