Shelve the year, plan for 2021, advises top coach
Cornelius heads up one of the world’s leading High Performance Centres in athletics at the University of Pretoria, and he says athletes should target a return to competition in 2021. The Pretoria-based club there (TuksAthletics) could supply as many as 12 athletes in SA’s next Olympics squad, and they will likely be guided by Cornelius’ advice during times of the pandemic.
Tuks athletes like Akani Simbine (Commonwealth Games 100m champ), Simon Magakwe (former national 100m record-holder), Henricho Bruintjies (Commonwealth medallist) and Carina Horn (women’s 100m record-holder) all train at the University of Pretoria, although they all have their own coaches. However, one of Cornelius’ portfolios includes Head of Programme and he helps coaches to remain at the forefront of sporting excellence.
Cornelius said any times run between April 6 and November 30 will not count as an Olympic qualification time.
More than half of the Diamond League Meetings have been suspended. Against the background, Cornelius feels athletes take the rest of the year off from competition and rather train intensively for the Olympic qualification period which starts from December.
“As things stand, it is not certain whether World Athletics will allow any of the major meetings to happen. I would be surprised if they do,” said Cornelius.
“Why would athletes want to compete if they cannot qualify for the Olympics? Some might argue there is money to be made. I do not think that is enough of an incentive for top athletes to compete."