Semenya not on Sascoc list

IN OR OUT?: Caster Semenya
        Photo: Getty Images
IN OR OUT?: Caster Semenya Photo: Getty Images

THE South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee announced a revamped funding programme for athletes yesterday.

But the Olympic body cast doubt on whether Olympic 800m silver medallist Caster Semenya would compete at the world championships in Moscow in August.

Semenya was the glaring omission from Sascoc's Operation Excellence list that has been broadened to accept a wider array of athletes in the build-up to the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Sascoc chief executive Tubby Reddy explained that Athletics SA had nominated Semenya for OpEx funding, but that the federation's high performance manager, Hezekiel Sepeng, had admitted that the Limpopo athlete had been inactive lately.

"She is not training, she is not participating, she may not go to the world championships," said Reddy.

But Semenya's agent, Jukka Harkonen, denied she would miss the Russian showpiece.

"That's bull!" he stated.

Semenya's coach, Maria Mutola, was not immediately available for comment.

The only other 2012 London medallist not on the list is rower Matthew Brittain, who is injured.

Oscar Pistorius, not unexpectedly, has fallen off the list, having not trained since the charge of shooting dead his girlfriend on Valentine's Day.

The new OpEx programme has four tiers of funding for potential Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games athletes, stretching it beyond those enjoying top-eight world rankings, with the list of recipients being reviewed every six months.

Sascoc spent R70.7-million on athletes through OpEx from 2009 to 2012, and by March next year it is expecting to spend between R20-million and R22-million, said president Gideon Sam.

Undeterred after Team SA achieved only six of the 12 medals he had targeted for London 2012, Sam is now aiming for 16 in 2016.

"You have to raise the bar," he explained. "I can't say we're just aiming for seven medals."

Sam warned that Sascoc's high performance advisory committee would closely monitor the performances of OpEx athletes, and would also work closely with their coaches to ensure they did not overtrain ahead of competition.