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New athletics boss wants SA star Akani Simbine to race on home TV

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Getting local athletics events back on live television is new Athletics South Africa president James Moloi’s ’number one priority’.

South Africa’s Akani Simbine in is in top form. Picture: Aleksandra Szmigiel/Reuters

CAPE TOWN – Getting local athletics events back on live television is new Athletics South Africa president James Moloi’s “number one priority”.

Long-serving Central Gauteng Athletics boss Moloi beat incumbent Aleck Skhosana in the ASA elections in Johannesburg on Saturday, ending the latter’s six-year tenure at the helm of the sport.

Moloi has been the CGA president since 2010, and had been an ASA board member responsible for road running up to the elections.

It is understood that part of the reason for Skhosana’s defeat was his reluctance to allow athletics competitions to resume during the Covid-19 pandemic, with athletes and coaches criticising Athletics SA for not opening up the sport last year.

Long-jump star Ruswahl Samaai tweeted last October: “How is it possible that our Athletics stadiums/tracks is still closed when so many sporting codes in our country has resume with their training. Why is one of the most social distancing sports struggling to get access to training facilities?”

ASA only gave the green light from November 1, with top stars such as Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine having had to go overseas for events.

But now that Moloi is in charge for the next four years, he wants the sport to be more visible in Mzansi.

“Coming back to TV rights, we want our races, all our races, to be televised. Even if two provinces can be televised. We want live TV coverage, because if we don’t do that, we are not going to get sponsors – people are wasting our time,” he said during his acceptance speech.

“Imagine Akani (Simbine) ran today, and we only hear tomorrow that Akani had run – it’s too late. That one is a priority, my No 1 priority.”

Moloi also offered his assistance to provinces that have felt the financial pinch due to the lack of competitions during the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in four provinces being unable to send teams to junior championships.

He will be placing the spotlight on development of athletes, adding that each province must have development officers in place, while he wants to engage with legends of the sport to become team managers and coaches.

Moloi also urged the new board to “unite” and sort out any differences. “We must talk one language. Even if we have problems, let’s sit down and deal with the problem. Let’s discuss our problem in the boardroom, and outside the boardroom, we can be friends and all that.”

But apart from the TV broadcast issue, Moloi will have to ensure that his organisation can deliver a well prepared SA athletics team for the Tokyo Olympics.

“As a priority, we need to put our heads together as a board and address how we can assist athletes who are preparing for the Olympics, and those who are searching for qualifiers.”

New Athletics South Africa board

President: James Moloi

Vice-president: Shireen Noble

Track and field chairperson: Jean Verster

Road running chairperson: Enoch Skosana

Cross country chairperson: Jakes Jacobs

Athletes’ commission chairperson: Hendrick Mokganyetsi

Additional board members: Esther Malema (Limpopo Athletics), Ntathu Gwadiso (Border Athletics), Adelina Ranthimo (Athletics Free State), Norma Nonkonyane (Western Province Athletics).

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