ASA ANNOUNCES UPDATED PREPARATION SQUAD FOR TOKYO OLYMPICS
On the eve of the resumption of local athletics competitions, ASA has announced the updated ASA Preparation Squad in the build-up to the Tokyo Olympic Games to be held from 30 July - 8 August 2021 in Japan.
The squad for the Tokyo Games, which were postponed earlier this year due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, now consists of 43 athletes in individual events (32 men and 11 women).
Another 15 sprinters are also included in the national men's and women's sprint relay squads.
The squad features all four SA athletes who earned medals at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games - sprinter Wayde van Niekerk, long jumper Luvo Manyonga, versatile athlete Caster Semenya and javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen - as well as the likes of sprinter Akani Simbine and marathon runner Stephen Mokoka, who have displayed superb form on the international circuit this year.
The squad will be given opportunities to prepare on home soil, starting from a revised national fixtures list in November and December which will include various events that comply with strict health and safety measures.
A preliminary national athletics team for the 2021 Tokyo Games will be submitted to the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) after the 2021 World Athletics Relays, to be held in Silesia, Poland on 1 May next year.
“We believe that we have assembled a very strong squad and we are confident that all the athletes are capable to be part of the final team, but that will be depended entirely on them,” said Aleck Skhosana, the President of ASA. “But they will have to stay focussed to achieve that as they train in their various disciplines.
“We are also alerting athletes that the championships for the U18 Youth, U20 Juniors and seniors at national and provincial level are the way to go for all athletes who want to be in the final team.
Given the current global challenge caused by the Corona virus pandemic, we encourage athletes to take advantage of every available opportunity for competition because we don’t know what the future holds in terms of the fight against this virus. Whether it will get stronger or whether it will be defeated, we don’t know. So, we urge athletes to use opportunities at club, provincial or national level to prepare themselves.
“We are going to apply stringent rules to all athletes who want to be in the various other national teams so that we have the best representing us. There are athletes who are also preparing for the World Junior Championships in Nairobi, Kenya (17-22 August 2021) and our focus is to improve our position sixth ranking when we go there. Similarly, to the athletes who are going to the World Athletics Relays we will be strict because we aim to qualify as many relay teams as possible.
“Provinces and coaches are therefore, encouraged to work tirelessly to ensure that the various athletes are assisted in full to prepare themselves adequately.”