Helalia Johannes (Namibia) wins the 2018 Cape Town Women's Marathon on 23 September 2018. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

DURBAN – Elana Meyer is disappointed at local athletics clubs’ seeming obsession with winning events at all cost instead of focusing on developing athletes.

Meyer was speaking in relation to the foreign domination of the six-city Spar Women’s 10km Challenge series that has its penultimate race in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.

“It is not fair that we have foreign athletes dominating our races this way. Our clubs should invest in producing top local athletes instead of inviting top athletes from outside to run here,” the 1992 Olympic silver medallist lamented.

“The clubs must assist our athletes to run faster instead of... bringing in athletes who cannot even speak English, which is not doing any good for our athletes. We need to start developing our athletes from the track to 10km before they move to running marathons.”

Namibia’s Helalia Johannes has obliterated the opposition in the series by winning all four races and has an unassailable lead over Ethiopian Tadu Neru.

Meyer believes the series is beneficial to the locals and says she has seen standards of women’s running being raised through it.

“We have seen locals improving their times since the series started. It is good for the country and we are closing the gap on the internationals.”

However, Meyer has no problem with Johannes being in total control of the series.

“It is good that a southern African athlete is leading but it should not be a foreign-athlete dominated race. Spar is a good race giving opportunity to women in the country (but) our clubs should invest in improving local athletes.”

With less than a month before the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, of which she is an ambassador, Meyer is hopeful that locals will do well there.

Mbongiseni Buthelezi