Ramaala punts cross-country

SOUTH African athletics must channel more resources into cross-country to catch up with global giants like Ethiopia and Kenya.

SOUTH African athletics must channel more resources into cross-country to catch up with global giants like Ethiopia and Kenya.

This according to top South African runner Hendrick Ramaala, who said: "We've been neglecting cross-country in this country for a long time. We need to make cross-country as big as track and field and road running. We need to see everybody in track and marathons going there to compete.

"We need to change our mindset before we start challenging Kenya and Ethiopia. Last year about R6million was given to track and field, with road running getting R17,5million. There is absolutely nothing for cross-country, but that must change and we are not even going to negotiate. We must go back to basics to get our sport back on track.

"When you have a big event coming, like the Olympics and world championships, we have all expenses paid for training camps for the athletes in Germany and Asia. There is nothing for cross-country.

"Cross country is the cheapest sport, all you need is a ground. I have learnt a lot from cross-country, that is why I used to run in cross-country more than anything else.

"Between 1996 and 2001, I used to spend my festive season holidays in Europe to compete in cross-country competitions, just like Paul Tergat and other big guns.

"We have to go that route of prioritising cross-country, especially at all our schools," Ramaala said.

He also said it was crucial to get the right people in the office to lead Athletics South Africa andthe provincial structures. "Athletes must take the lead in the process of reviving athletics."

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