More sponsors needed to get athletics off the blocks

The arrival of Yellow Pages as sponsors of Athletics South Africa's track and field events has brought a sense of hope for local athletics.

The arrival of Yellow Pages as sponsors of Athletics South Africa's track and field events has brought a sense of hope for local athletics.

ASA has not had a track and field financial backer for more than four years since Engen and Absa dumped them in favour of soccer.

Yellow Pages, a telephone directory company, will reportedly pump R20 million over three years into the local track and field series.

There was a perceived doom when ASA experienced a mass exodus of sponsorship after black leadership took over control of the sport.

That was shortly after Bernard Rose quit ASA, resulting in Leonard Chuene and company being sent from pillar to post in their search for sponsorship.

The then state of affairs prompted ASA's top brass to cry foul that "maybe we are children of a lesser important god".

The failure by Mzansi's corporate world to finance athletics was disappointing, considering that athletics is the flagship of South African sports. It is known that athletics has always been the most consistent sport in South Africa when it comes to bringing medals home.

However, Chuene did not rest on his laurels when sponsors were shunning them.

Chuene used money from the organisation's coffers to give incentives to athletes who won medals such as Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, Louis van Zyl and Eliza Naude. It goes without saying that the more financial support ASA get, the better for the country's hopes of winning more medals at international competitions.

This will also help ASA in their quest to achieve a top five ranking in the world by 2012, as announced by Chuene at the Yellow Pages sponsorship launch.

The money could not have come at a better time as the athletes gear themselves up to start with final preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Is it not about time that more financial partners joined ASA in order for Mzansi to stand proud in world athletics?

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