Athletes hail renewal of Yellow Pages sponsorship

ATHLETICS South Africa (ASA) renewed its sponsorship deal with Yellow Pages in Johannesburg yesterday, to the delight of most of the athletes present.

ATHLETICS South Africa (ASA) renewed its sponsorship deal with Yellow Pages in Johannesburg yesterday, to the delight of most of the athletes present.

The athletics body endured a torrid 2009 after the gender controversy surrounding Caster Semenya. But all that was forgotten yesterday when the athletes, including Semenya, listened as ASA administrator Ray Mali and Lionel Smith, general manager of marketing at Trudon, the publishers of Yellow Pages, outlined their vision for the sport.

Ofentse Mogwane, the 400m runner, said: "This is good news for us as athletes because this money will come in handy and we'll get paid regularly, unlike in the previous administration where sometimes we would not get paid. And because of this reason, I will choose which events I take part in."

Simon Magakwe, a 100m and 200m runner, also expressed his elation at the sponsorship, worth R6,5million a year until 2012.

"This is my life and it feels great to have Yellow Pages supporting us. I was shocked to hear that our sponsors might pull out after the Caster issue, but I'm glad to see that they are sticking with us."

Journalists were given permission to speak to Semenya, but she steadfastly refused to be interviewed.

Mali said the sponsorship meant that athletes would be paid decent salaries and that much would be channelled into development structures.

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