Wayde van Niekerk is one of 13 athletes who automatically made Athletics SA's preliminary team, based on his achievements at the World Championships in London. Photo: EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

JOHANNESBURG - Athletics South Africa (ASA) chief executive, Richard Stander, has encouraged athletes to target the highest possible ranking to secure selection for next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

According to Stander, only 100 individual athletes per country would be allowed to participate at the quadrennial showpiece.

“You have the individual athletes such as athletics, swimming, which include about 10 different sports where the Commonwealth Games Committee allow only 100 individual athletes per country,” Stander said.

At the beginning of September ASA named a 63-member preparation squad for next year’s Commonwealth Games.

ASA named a list of 13 athletes who automatically made the preliminary team for the quadrennial showpiece “as a result of their performances at the 2017 IAAF World Championships”.

Sascoc president, Gideon Sam, said they would give clarity by Monday but his understanding was that each country was limited to 300 athletes across both individual and team events.

“Ezera Shabangu (Sascoc high-performance manager) is there (in Australia) and she is coming back on Monday with a full set of information in terms of inclusion and numbers,” Sam said.

“Throughout the year they have been giving pieces of information to the (Commonwealth Games Associations) to prepare them. They are talking about 300 plus management which is a lot of athletes.”

South Africa returned from the IAAF World Championships in London with its best medal haul, winning three gold, a silver, and two bronze and finished third overall on the medal’s table.

“We’ve stressed to the coaches that the criteria are one thing, it is only a guide, it is only there to give direction,” Stander said. “They should be focussed on where their athletes are compared to the world rankings or in terms of the Commonwealth Games rankings’ list.

“If they don’t focus on that, you have people complaining about their athletes not making the team and they use all sorts of excuses.”

World championship gold medal winners Wayde van Niekerk (400m), Caster Semenya (800m), and Luvo Manyonga (long jump) were among the athletes who only needed to show some sort of fitness ahead of the Games to earn selection.

The athletics season has already started, giving athletes an opportunity to post qualifying times and distances until the deadline of December 31.

“Going forward we will give updates and add athletes to the squad each month as the athletes qualify while we would also indicate where they are in the Commonwealth rankings,” Stander said.

“The athletes will have to position themselves as well as possible to the top of the rankings list when we present the team to Sascoc so that we don’t have a swimmer filling the place of an athlete.”

A host of local meetings have already started in September and will run through to the middle of December.

Stander said ASA would consider hosting the South African Senior Championships before the Commonwealth Games following requests at the recent ASA National Coaches Symposium in Bloemfontein.

The ASA boss said a healthy number of athletes have also shown interest in representing the country at next year’s World Indoor Championships to be held in Birmingat the beginning of March.

The Star

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