Cape Town - Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya produced two golden moments at the Rio Olympics, but how many more such athletes are there in South Africa?
That is the main reason why Athletics South Africa (ASA) are presenting a SA Athletics Coaches Symposium in Bloemfontein on Friday and Saturday.
Athletics won four of the 10 medals secured by Team South Africa at the Rio Olympics, but the local governing body are keen to continue the growth of the sport to bring home more medals in future.
Van Niekerk smashed Michael Johnson’s 400m world record when he ran 43.03 seconds, while Semenya set a new SA 800m mark to clinch her first gold at her second Olympics in 1:55.28.
The other athletes to win medals were the silvers from Sunette Viljoen in the javelin and Luvo Manyonga in long jump.
But there were a few other medals that were perhaps “left out on the track” due to poor communication and organisation between ASA, athletes and coaches, and the symposium is an attempt to sort out all those issues before next August’s world championships in London.
The biggest disappointment from the Rio Olympics was the absence of a men’s 4x100m relay team, where the likes of Akani Simbine, Henricho Bruintjies, Van Niekerk and Anaso Jobodwana would’ve been real contenders for a medal.
But, like the 4x400m women’s team, they didn’t qualify for the Olympics due to a lack of racing opportunities over the last two years.
Following the Rio Games, though, there seems to be a greater will for all stakeholders to work together to bring more success to the country, with a particular focus on ensuring athletes receive the necessary support in the build up to major competitions.
“We have a lot of work on our hands over the next two days in which we will share experiences of our successes and failures of the past season. The immediate focus is next year’s IAAF World Champs and then the next Olympics four years away in Japan (Tokyo in 2020),” ASA president Aleck Skhosana said in a statement.
“This means we are also going to go through strengths and weaknesses of the South African athletics team at the 2016 Olympic Games.
“We will be listening to different sharing experiences as we collectively seek how we can also make it easier for each other to present an athlete that is ready for competition at all levels.”
Some of the speakers at the symposium include British athletics expert Norman Brook MBE, head biomechanist at Tuks, Dr Helen Bayne, and renowned Tuks sprint coach Hennie Kriel.
Former head of British athletics Dr Frank Dick, who was a consultant for the SA athletics team in Rio, will also host a debriefing on the preparation for Brazil, while German expert Ralph Mouchbahani will talk about tapering and peaking at the right time.
The role of coaches, athletes’ managers and representatives will also be discussed.