Blow to Caster Semenya’s Olympic hopes as African athletics championships cancelled
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CAPE TOWN – In a major blow to some local athletes still pushing for Olympic qualifying performances, the African athletics championships, scheduled for Lagos in Nigeria, have been cancelled.
The event had already been postponed and moved to different dates and venues in Algeria, and late last month, the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) made a final decision to have the championships held in Nigeria.
But on Monday, Athletics South Africa’s excellence manager, Hezekiel Sepeng, sent out a circular to the local provinces where he announced that the event was off.
“Athletics South Africa (ASA) has received communication from the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) confirming that the CAA African Senior Championships that were to take place in Lagos, Nigeria from 23 – 27 June 2021 has been cancelled,” Sepeng wrote.
The 800m Olympic silver medallist from the 1996 Atlanta Games acknowledged that the continental showpiece was going to be used as a final attempt to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
Now, apart from those SA athletes already competing in Europe and elsewhere, others based back home will have a few local events to try and achieve their qualifiers.
There will be Athletics Gauteng North league meetings on June 12 and 19, a Western Province Athletics middle-distance meeting in Cape Town on June 12, field events meetings hosted by Boland Athletics on June 12, 19 and 26, and Athletics Central North West will have an open meeting on June 26.
Caster Semenya may run in the Cape Town event, although it is likely to be a 3 000m and not 5 000m race, as she was planning to qualify in the latter distance at the African Championships. She will now have to find an alternative event.
Wayde van Niekerk is another high-profile athlete yet to qualify for Tokyo, but he is based in the United States, and has just recovered from a minor hip issue that saw him pull up in a 200m race in Boston a few weeks ago.