SA triple jump record holder critical of ASA's Olympic standard

Zinzi can't wait to return to sandpit

Zinzi Elna Chabangu of South Africa during Women's Triple Jump Final on July 12, 2019 in Naples, Italy.
Zinzi Elna Chabangu of South Africa during Women's Triple Jump Final on July 12, 2019 in Naples, Italy.
Image: Ivan Romano/Getty Images

SA triple jump star Zinzi Xulu, formerly Chabangu, is excited about her expected return to the sandpit at the Central Gauteng Athletics third track and field league meeting at the Boksburg Stadium next weekend. The 24-year-old University of Johannesburg athlete has gone a year without action due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The SA triple jump national record holder with a distance of 14.02m wants to use her first competition of the season to qualify for what would be her debut Olympic Games. She missed CGA's two league meetings at the Boksburg Stadium as she wanted to make sure that she is 100% fit to compete in her first event.

Xulu, who changed her surname in December, said the pandemic affected her progress, as she was unable to compete and lost income due to lack of athletics meetings. She and her coach Wade Fraser have been training hard and working on her fitness, and they are now ready to kick-start her season.

“The Covid-19 pandemic hit me hard as I could not train properly with the stadium closed. I trained on the streets for almost a year. I have no sponsors and I did not get any form of relief fund money to assist me. I rely on my parents for survival. They pay for my gym fees, buy my supplements, provide transport money and buy sporting gear. The last time I took part in a competition was in March 2020. I am in top shape and ready to fulfil my Olympic dreams,” Xulu told Sowetan yesterday.

The Athletics SA Olympic qualifying standard for the triple jump event is set at 14.32m. Xulu is confident that she will qualify, but she blasted ASA for setting strict qualifying criteria.

“The ASA qualifying criteria are ridiculous and they make it impossible for us to get to Tokyo for the Olympic Games. I have to be in top form to meet the qualifying standard, but I can do it. In SA, as a female athlete, you have to win a world title or qualify for the Olympics to get a sponsor. We do not get the same exposure as the male athletes,” she said.

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