Good and bad news for Athletics SA

Manyonga banned for four years, Van Niekerk off to Tokyo

Gauteng's Precious Mashele stops his watch as he breaks the tape to claim his first national half marathon title at the Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon.
Gauteng's Precious Mashele stops his watch as he breaks the tape to claim his first national half marathon title at the Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon.
Image: Fabian Smith

It was a busy weekend for Athletics SA (ASA) as well as athletes in the country and across the world. ASA held a three-day strategic meeting in Kempton Park, while athletes tried to qualify for the Olympic Games at various events all over the world.

The weekend started with a dose of bad news when disgraced long jump star Luvo Manyonga received a four-year ban for a doping violation. Manyonga and his Port Elizabeth-based lawyer, Brendan Weldrick, did not respond to various notices informing them of the hearing set for May 28, wrote the arbitrator, who made his ruling based on papers submitted.

On the same day, middle-distance runner Precious Mashele failed to run an Olympic-qualifying time despite winning his 5,000m race in Pietermaritzburg.

The 30-year-old clocked 13:26:43 to cross the finishing line first, but fell short of the required SA Olympic qualifying time of 13:13:50.

“It was nice to attempt the Olympics qualifier ... thanks to ASA for making it happen. The mission is still on and forward we go. In addition, I would like to thank everyone who has been behind my journey today. I had a very long, successful season with huge personal bests, 5,000m, 13:27.57, 13:42:31, 13:52.64, and last attempt 13:26.43. I also ran a huge PB in 10,000m, 27:55.87, which earlier in the season I ran 28:20.99. I couldn’t ask for more. I will keep on trying until the last day,” said Mashele.

Golden girl Caster Semenya finished in fourth place at 15:57:12 in the 5,000m at the Sparkassen Gala in Germany on Saturday. She needs to run 15:10:00 to qualify for the Olympics.

However, the Olympic men’s 400m record holder Wayde van Niekerk qualified for the Olympics when he ran 44.56 to finish in second place in Madrid in Spain on Saturday night.

“It was an extremely busy weekend for the ASA board and the athletes. Congratulations to Wayde for qualifying for the Olympics. We still believe that Caster and Precious can qualify before the cut-off date of June 29. As for Luvo, we will have a meeting with him to discuss his rehabilitation process and map the way forward. The board meeting went well and ASA has a bright future,” Moloi told Sowetan yesterday.

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