South African Incentive: Big Team for CG

There will be a lot at stake for the country’s top athletes next year when they take part in the national championships.

Athletics South Africa has decided that, providing the athletes meet the qualifying times, the first three in each event will go to the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

The national championships will be held in Port Elizabeth in February while the Commonwealth Games will be held in March.

Although the qualifying requirements are the same as those for the Olympic Games and world meetings, Wilfred Daniels of ASA said these qualifications could be “stretched.”

"We may decide to take three athletes per event, for example, even if they only qualify for the B standard.

“You can only take more than one athlete per event provided they meet the A standard.”

It would help ASA to give more women and young athletes exposure to international athletics if the rules are stretched," Daniels said.

"The performances of athletes like Khotso Mokoena and LJ van Zyl at the world meeting in Helsinki showed us that the youngsters are hungry to do well.

“It’s a good thing, because it kept our more experienced athletes on their toes,” Daniels said.

The Pretoria 400m hurdler, Ter de Villiers, agreed with Daniels that the training camp held in Pretoria last weekend had been a positive experience.

“Leonard Chuene (ASA’s chairperson) also said we had learnt our lesson in Helsinki and would now look ahead.”

De Villiers would have to be at the top of his form to be included in the team travelling to Melbourne, because competition in the 400m hurdles was the most intense of all the events.

Van Zyl and Llewellyn Herbert, who took part in the 400m hurdles with De Villiers in Helsinki, would be challenged by Alwyn Myburgh and Ockert Cilliers, who could only qualify for the 4x400m relay team at the world meeting.

“No one can rest on his laurels. I’m very excited about the season and will train full out again after exams kept me occupied the past few weeks,” De Villiers said.