Jarrion Lawson, Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai show off their medals at the World Championships in London. Photo: EPA

Old Smooches struck again! It was inevitable that London would be the location for his dastardly act.

The victims were all primed for the taking as they headed into the British capital hopeful of returning with treasures.

The moustached fiend’s modus operandi is to go to major events as a humble servant of track and field before pouncing on his helpless victims.

Smooches is a man for the big moment, will take credit when it is not due and is always ready for a selfie with an out-of-breath athlete shortly after they have crossed the line.

Planting big, fat kisses on athletes’ cheeks is what earned Smooches his name. It happened at the 2016 African Games in Durban, the Rio Olympics and again at the IAAF World Championships in London.

“I don’t even allow my girlfriend to kiss me that way,” said one of Smooches’ favourite victims.

In Rio, Smooches proudly posted an image of him planting the disgusting kiss of blech on one of South Africa’s greatest athletes.

Smooches and his pals will no doubt claim responsibility for South Africa’s record medal haul in London.

South Africa returned finishing third on the overall log thanks to their three gold, silver, and two bronze medals.

The current crop of athletes’ rise on the global stage has nothing to do with administrators and more to do with raw talent coupled by good coaching and a supportive university high-performance system.

While athletes have in the past been silent over the lack of support received from the governing body in the country, defending voices are growing. The fear of victimisation is a real one, with certain people at Athletics SA (ASA) using bullying tactics to silence athletes.

What some athletes have come to realise is that ASA cannot take anything away from them as the federation has nothing to hold for ransom.

World long-jump bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai has emerged as one of the strongest voices to speak out against the lack of support athletes receive from the mother body.

When the international media asked Samaai about ASA’s role in South Africa’s current athletic boom, he answered honestly that their influence has been minimal.

“Personally I don’t think they are doing a lot, I really hope and pray that these guys (youth athletes) can get the support,” Samaai said.

“I sincerely hope they will get the necessary support to become some of the best athletes in the world.

“My biggest fear for the youth is that they are not getting the support, as we are struggling.”

One can only hope that administrators sitting at ASA’s Houghton offices will interpret Samaai’s words for what it is – a cry for help for struggling athletes.

In all likelihood, Samaai’s agent will receive an email from an irate ASA employee complaining about the athlete’s audacity to say it as it is.

We need a federation that is willing to listen instead of one that has people like Smooches taking selfies when they should be looking at ways to get money back into the sport.

Who knows, if Smooches and the rest of the board take an athletes-first approach, we may in future move up to second place and even first on the medals table.

Saturday Star

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