Top athletics coach offers to help ASA

RESPECTED: US -based athletics coach George Mehale. 07/01/2009. Pic. Elijar Mushiana.  © Sowetan.
RESPECTED: US -based athletics coach George Mehale. 07/01/2009. Pic. Elijar Mushiana. © Sowetan.

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

World-renowned athletics coach George Mehale told Sowetan yesterday he is willing to assist Athletics South Africa to develop athletics in schools and at tertiary level , a key focus area of the governing body.

Mehale, a South African expatriate who has coached at the University of Texas, is based in Long Beach, California, in the US.

The 55-year-old mentor, who has been living in the US for 30 years, is highly regarded by the Americans for his coaching nous.

"I'm the son of this soil and I will be more than ready to assist athletes in my country," said Mehale yesterday.

"South Africa has talent in abundance and we need the right people to unearth it. The problem with our country is that we don't see athletics as a country's pride, but as just another sport.

"Our government and other big companies should be seen acting proactively in backing athletics. We should not always go on our knees to beg for money every time we stage events.

"Our Olympic committee [the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee] should also work tirelessly to get enough funding for sports federations," added the coach who was born in GaMaja.

He said South African athletes will only become world beaters if athletes were prepared appropriately long before competing at international level. He also made a plea to Sascoc to start preparations for the London Olympics in 2012 to avoid a repeat of the embarrassment of Beijing.

Mehale, who specialised in the 400m and 400m hurdles while he was a student at Stotolwane College of Education in GaMashashane in the late 1970s, urged ASA to invest more in schools and at tertiary level.

Mehale coached South African athlete Sydney Maree for the 1984 Olympics where he represented the US. He also worked with American triple jump star Robert Cannon for the 1988 Olympics.

Mehale earned his bachelor's degree in physical education and health at the University of Texas in 1992. He received his master's degree in sports management and administration from California State University in 1990.

ASA boss Leonard Chuene said they were ready to engage Mehale's expertise.