In preparation for two international championships taking place in the first half of the 2017 season, Athletics South Africa (ASA) has released provisional programmes for the domestic Track and Field campaign, which will focus on giving distance runners and relay athletes opportunities to prepare. With the national Cross Country fitness tests having taken place last month, the federation announced on today that it will host a 10 000m Men and 5 000m Women contests during the first leg of the ASA Speed Series in Durban on February 28, in the build-up to the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda on March 26.
The elite national season opener will include a 100m race for men, a 200m dash for women and 400m contests for men and women. There will be a 1 500m Men race on the pre-programme, along with medley relay events for Under-16 and U-18 athletes. In March, three more ASA Speed Series meetings will focus on preparing athletes for the IAAF World Relays, scheduled to take place in Bahamas between April 22-23.
All Track and Field meetings in the local campaign would also include other disciplines, though the ASA Speed Series events will all have relay races in their schedules. In another attempt to bolster the country's chances at the World Relays, ASA held a successful meeting with the coaches of elite sprinters on February 4 to discuss the preparation plans for the global relay spectacle.
Meanwhile, the prize money and incentive structure for the domestic Track and Field season was also revealed by the national federation. At the ASA Speed Series events in Durban later this month, Bloemfontein on March 8, Potchefstroom on March 15 and Germiston on March 22, relay teams would earn R8 000 (first), R6 000 (second) and R4 000 (third).
The podium finishers in individual events will be paid R5 000 (first), R3 000 (second) and R1 000 (third), with all qualifiers for the IAAF World Championships in London in August take home an additional R5 000. “We recently introduced a new four-year plan in the build-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the IAAF World Cross Country Championships and World Relays will play important roles in the early stages of that process”, said ASA President, Aleck Skhosana. “We don’t want to take passengers to major international championships, and by ensuring there are sufficient opportunities for them to prepare, we believe we can put together our strongest possible teams to represent our nation at these events.”