'I'll be leaving a legacy behind' - Moloi reflects on ASA Awards and shares plans for success at #Paris2024
When Khotso Mokoena took to the podium to at the Southern Sun, OR Tambo to speak in behalf of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee at the Athletics South Africa Awards on Saturday night (27 January, 2024), he jokingly mentioned that these awards were never done during his time as a professional athlete and that the current ASA administration should consider awarding retired Olympic medalists like himself. ASA President James Moloi took heart from the long jumper's words saying that when the current board took over the reigns of leadership in 2023, honouring athletes is one thing they vowed to do.
"I'm very excited," he told #TheTopRunner after the glitzy function where some of the country's top stars such as Wayde van Niekerk were in attendance. "Like I said when I started my term in 2021, I said that I want Athletics South Africa to have awards going forward at least until the end of my term. Most of the athletes are very excited because they thought that this would just happen for one year and after one year it would end," he said alluding to the inaugural awards which took place in January 2023 to recognize the achievements of those that campaigned throughout the 2022 season.
In addition to the success of the awards, Moloi was also quick to point out some of the other success that the current regime has enjoyed under his leadership. The former president of Central Gauteng Athletics says they also delivered on their promise to open up events during the Covid-19 pandemic back in 2021 and get the sport (especially track and field) back on television.
“I know very well if I can leave tomorrow, I'll be leaving a legacy behind. As long as athletes can benefit - that’s the main thing. We said the SA Champs are going to be televised live - all of them. And that’s what is happening now. I promised everybody that it’s gonna happen and now it’s happening,” he said.
While there are some achievements to be celebrated, Moloi’s detractors will point out that the South African team returned from both the Oregon 2022 and the Budapest 2023 Athletics World Championships without any medals, while most of the country’s top athletes continue to be drawn largely from metropolitan areas such as the City of Joburg, the City of Tshwane, Ethekwini, the City of Cape Town and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, while most of the country’s rural areas lie fallow without any organised talent identification programmes. Moloi admits that more must be done in this regard and plans are afoot.
“I said to board members that I think we must get the money to hire a development manger in the office, whose duty it would be to formulate policies and to take care of the provinces. And then from there, I’ll get money to hire development managers in all provinces and those development officers will be paid by ASA directly. Those guys will go to the bundus and schools to identify talent. At the same time, we are intending to put money for incentives for the Olympics so that if people win medals we can reward them. That’s why I invited business people tonight. This is our plan.”
It sounds like a good plan, whose results will be known after #Paris2024. For now though, athletes are in jubilant mood after a night of dancing and being honoured for their performances. Congratulations to all of the winners.
ASA Male Athlete of the Year - Adriaan Wildschutt
ASA Female Athlete of the Year - Marione Fourie
ASA Sports Personality of the Year - Wiepke Schoeman
ASA Junior Male Athlete of the Year - Armand van der Walt
ASA Junior Female Athlete of the Year - Chane Kok
ASA Male Prospect of the Year - Henco Lamberts
ASA Female Prospect of the Year - Alicia Khunou
ASA Sportsman of the Year with a Disability - Mpumelelo Mhlongo
ASA Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability - Simone Kruger
ASA Coach of the Year - Michael Mbambani
ASA Technical Official of the Year - Estelle Opperman
ASA Platinum Recognition Award - Gerda Steyn and Tete Dijana
ASA Best Organised Championships - ACNA ASA Senior Track & Field Championships