R20-m deal shot in arm for athletics
In what can be described as a clear vote of confidence to Athletics South Africa's leaders, Yellow Pages has come on board to finance local track and field events.
Though figures were not disclosed at the launch of the deal in Johannesburg, Sowetan has learnt that the windfall was about R20 million.
This is the second major sponsorship acquired by the once poverty-stricken ASA in four months after Adidas came in as technical sponsors.
Makhenkesi Stofile, the minister of sports and recreation, praised Telkom Directory Services for their sponsorship of track and field.
"The sponsorship will make a huge contribution in helping our athletes prepare for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics," he said.
Johan Myburgh, chief financial officer of the telephone directory company, said they were delighted to have entered into a partnership with ASA.
"ASA has offered us a golden opportunity to sponsor track and field. We will be using it to ultimately bring athletics to the community.
"Sports brings people together. We [South Africans] are bracing ourselves for a great track and field season where records will be shattered," said Myburgh.
An elated Leonard Chuene, ASA president, said: "We could have not asked for a better way to celebrate the start of the new year.
"Track and field has been without a sponsorship for some time but soldiered on; there were some incredible performances by our athletes.
"We guarantee South Africans that track and field is moving to another level as from this year. Competition will be stiff and records are definitely going to be smashed.
"We are committed to supporting our athletes to make it possible for ASA to achieve its goal of a top five world ranking by 2012."
Track and field has been without a sponsor since ASA were dumped by Absa and Engen, who have both channeled their resources into professional soccer.