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South Africa's elite athletes were lauded by Athletics SA (ASA) on Monday in the wake of the domestic track and field season.
“We all remember fondly the big names, times and performances achieved in South Africa long ago,” ASA chief executive Frik Vermaak said on Monday.
“Looking at the achievements this season we can see we're back on the right track.”
Eleven athletes shared the R200 000 'pot of gold' for reaching the Olympic qualifying standards in their events during the Yellow Pages Series.
Long jumper Khotso Mokoena, javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen, decathlete Willem Coertzen, one-lap hurdlers LJ van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks, distance runners Caster Semenya and Stephen Mokoka, and sprinters Simon Magakwe, Thuso Mpuang, Lebogang Moeng and Tsholofelo Thipe all reached their respective qualifying marks for the London Games during the season.
Only five of those athletes – Van Zyl, Fredericks, Coertzen, Semenya and Viljoen – have booked their tickets to London.
The others will need to reach the standards again in international competition, in line with strict qualifying criteria set out by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, to qualify for the quadrennial Games.
“There were many highs this season,” Vermaak said.
“Simon (Magakwe) ran six times under the qualifying mark in the 100 metres, including equalling an age-old national record 1/810.06 seconds 3/8, Caster Semenya was the first woman to run under two minutes in South Africa since 1983 (in the 800m), and Willem Coertzen broke the SA men's decathlon record.”
The country's athletics team, with nearly two months to go before the June 30 qualifying deadline, consists of 11 athletes.
Apart from the five track and field members, South Africa will have a full-strength marathon team, with three men (Mokoka, Lusapho April and Coolboy Ngamole) and three women (Rene Kalmer, Irvette van Blerk and Tanith Maxwell) who have qualified for the classic distance event. – Sapa