South Africa Coaches To Discuss World Champs Disappointments

Coaches to Meet And Mull Over Helsinki Disaster

Business Day (Johannesburg)

September 6, 2005
Posted to the web September 6, 2005

Mark Smit

A NATIONAL coaching seminar will be held next month as Athletics SA (ASA) takes the first step towards trying to repair the damage done by the country’s abysmal showing at the world championships in Helsinki in August.

SA appeared nowhere in the medals table in Helsinki, managing two sixth places and one seventh place in all events.

ASA GM Linda Ferns said yesterday the debriefing had already been done after the championships. "But these problems are not going to be solved by one debriefing.

"They are also not going to be solved in two days at a seminar. It is a much longer process but it starts with the coaching seminar.

“Five or six of the coaches who went to the world championships with the team will be at the seminar so they will be able to give their input as to what happened there,” said Ferns.

SA sent a team of 28 athletes to Helsinki, among them former world champion high jumper Jacques Freitag and 800m star Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, who won the 800m at the Berlin grand prix meeting on Sunday night.

The team left with the expectation that they could possibly bring back two medals.

However, medal hopes like Llewellyn Herbert (400m hurdles), Freitag, Frantz Kruger (discus) and Mulaudzi failed to finish in the placings, as the South Africans sank without a trace. A star five-man marathon team, including multi-event winners like Hendrick Ramaala, Gert Thys and Shadrack Hoff, failed to feature in the top finishes.

“There is no quick fix for something like this,” said Ferns.

"We need to find out what went wrong and then we have to take steps to rectify the problem.

“I don’t think things like managers’ reports are a solution in themselves.”

With the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne coming up next year, however, there is little time to sort things out.

“It’s a nightmare season next year,” said Ferns.

“With the Commonwealth Games in March, we are going to have out national championships in February, which throws our season here out quite a bit.”

Ferns said the championships would serve as trials and that the team would be selected as late as possible. “Obviously the Commonwealth Games Association will have a cut-off point for the declaration of teams, but we will leave our selections until as late as possible before that time.”

Ferns said Hezekiel Sepeng, who still faces a hearing about a failed drugs test early this year, might be available for Melbourne but that high-jumper Hestrie Cloete would probably not be there. “She has made no contact with ASA to discuss her availability,” said Ferns.