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Gauteng North has selected two teams of six athletes in each age category, to participate at the South African cross-country championships in Mpumalanga.
The championships take place at Lesedi mining village on September 8, and all athletic regions will be represented.
Andre Golby of Athletics Gauteng North said though only certain age groups are allowed to run, AGN has selected teams in all age groups in line with the province's policy of developing youth athletes for the future.
"For instance, the boys under-11 group will have to run with the under-12 group. The good news this year is that the U-14 and U-16 athletes will take part in a competition of their own and do not have to compete against athletes in older age groups, as was the case before," Golby said.
Japie Modibane, AGN development officer, said the practice of entering younger children in races meant for an older age group gives youngsters the chance to test their strength against any opposition.
"The kids must know from day one that if you are talented, you can go out there and conquer. We are trying to encourage our kids to be bold and go for glory, so that when they go to compete on a bigger stage, they produce," said Modibane.
"Obviously parents voiced their concerns that losing could have a detrimental effect on a young athlete. However, the positive side is that finishing in a respectable position can be a major boost to that child's outlook."
To be eligible for selection, athletes had to participate in at least two cross-country events in the year.