Team SA can have even more stars

Wayde van Niekerk. 
 Photo: Roger Sedres/ImageSA/Gallo Images.

Wayde van Niekerk. Photo: Roger Sedres/ImageSA/Gallo Images.

Had ASA rightfully given other qualified athletes a chance, you never know how many more medals could have been won.

What an effort from the South African athletics team, who return home from the World Championships in London with their heads held high after delivering a wonderful performance on the track.

Team South Africa finished third on the overall list with six medals – three gold, one silver and two bronze medals. Only the United States (10) and Kenya (five) won more gold medals than South Africa.

Sprint sensation Wayde van Niekerk became the first South African to bag two individual medals at a single Championship event with his 400m gold and 200m silver, while middle distance runner Caster Semenya followed in his footsteps a few days later with a brace of her own following her 800m gold and 1 500m bronze.

Long jumpers Luvo Manyonga (gold) and Ruswahl Samaai (silver) took our tally to six medals as we beat the likes of hosts Great Britain, China and Germany – a spectacular achievement. It’s a record medal haul for South Africa, hot on the heels of the country’s record 10 medals at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games last year.

What makes their performance even better is they did so after a number of flawed selections from Athletics South Africa (ASA) prior to their departure. Had ASA rightfully given other qualified athletes a chance, you never know how many more medals could have been won or how many other stars unearthed.

Lebogang Shange is a case in point. Even though the South African walker holds the national record, not many would have heard the name of the 27-year-old.

Yet he produced arguably the surprise of the championships for SA, after narrowly missing out on a medal in the 20km walk following a fourth place finish.

Despite Team South Africa’s success, ASA must get their house in order if we are to find more Lebogang Shanges.

 

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