Johannesburg - South African javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen has claimed minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula snubbed her at a function on Wednesday she did not attend.
At the function other South African athletes received monetary rewards for their performances at the World Championships in Beijing in August. Viljoen, who claimed bronze in the women's javelin in Beijing, took to twitter to voice her frustration on Wednesday.
“So I have been snubbed yet again from getting a cent for my hard work. This time by @MbalulaFikile. At least I'm getting used to it now.” tweeted Viljoen.
In response Mbalula tweeted a letter he sent to Sascoc asking Viljoen, among other athletes, to attend the event.
“As previously said, as part of the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa's ongoing recognition and reward programme, I would like us to utilise the opportunity to honour the athletes who have represented and flew our colour in international competitions,” said Mbalula in the letter.
You were not snubbed, you were invited and apologized because you were not told you will be receiving something. pic.twitter.com/OTJJnIZxYz— RSA Min of Sport (@MbalulaFikile) September 30, 2015
“Because of administrative and other issues I have decided to honour all athletes on a separate date that of the TNA Business Breakfast. That date will be communicated in due time. I will however still request that Sascoc extends invitations not to all athletes but the ones who captured the attention of South Africans this year. I still request the facilitation of Wayde van Niekerk, Anaso Jobodwana, Sunnette Viljoen, Chad le Clos, Cameron van der Burgh and Caster Semenya.”
Viljoen then replied to Mbalula she could not attend all events to which she had been invited. “No one told me that I would be receiving anything at the function? I can not simply attend all functions??”
Mbaulua quickly shot back by saying : “So you only attend events that you will be recovering something?”
The minister clarified that he invited athletes to his events, at times to honour their hard work without promise of receiving anything. Mbalula said Viljoen had not been snubbed, but took another swipe at the athlete by tweeting : “R20 000 cheque awaits, you're a great athlete. We trust now that you know will receive something you will come get it.”
Interestingly, Caster Semenya who came last in her 800m women's semi-final heat at the World Championship also received R20 000 at the event.
Despite making the final and claiming bronze, Viljoen could expect the same payout as the struggling Semenya.
Viljoen, 31, had earlier this month voiced her frustrations with Sascoc for the lack of support given to athletes. Sascoc responded and said they were disappointed the athlete had not followed the correct procedures she had been expected to follow when a discrepancy arose.
The Sports body said Viljoen had received R800 000 from the organisation despite the athlete claiming she had received little or no funding since October 2012.