Cycling South Africa have made it a priority to assist riders who hope to qualify for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Brett Coates, CSA’s mountain-bike commission director, said they would use national cross-country races to provide a benchmark to help cyclists meet the selection criteria.
“We want young riders to know what they have to achieve in national races and we must be able to track them throughout the season,” Coates told In the Bunch this week.
“The mountain-bike criteria are extremely objective and data-driven,” he added. “Cross-country is relatively broad in terms of the number of races being used for qualification but the criteria remain performance-driven.”
Local races to be used to measure the performance standards for selection include the national cross-country series and champs.
Cycling SA look at performance criteria throughout the rest of the world.
“It is important to enable riders who have the ability to race abroad move forward according to the selection criteria,” Coates said.
“We had only one elite rider, Philip Buys, who was selected for the world championships in 2017. Nobody else qualified.
“The fact is that if you cannot meet a certain performance level in South Africa it is highly unlikely you will meet the criteria abroad.”
Riders were sent to compete abroad to gauge performance, not to gain experience, Coates added.
The focus was on cross-country racing, because that is the Olympic discipline.
“We rely on some government funding and support. Sascoc (the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee) are primarily focused on Olympic disciplines.
“We also have PDI (previously disadvantaged individual) prerogatives. Those are more for long-term goals.”
Cycling SA do not select the national team for the Commonwealth Games to be held at the Gold Coast in Queensland in April but send a list of qualified riders, based on statistics, to Sascoc. The Olympic body then make the decisions.
“Sascoc have changed the qualification criteria. In previous years, riders had to be among the top five in the Commonwealth to qualify. Next year they have to be in the top ten,” Coates said.
Sascoc have also made it clear that riders would not be sent if they have not shown the potential to win medals.
Their qualifying results will be compared with those of riders from other Commonwealth countries. Selection is therefore not based purely on meeting the stipulated criteria.
South Africa’s cross-country teams for the Commonwealth Games will be limited to three men and two women.
The final date for qualification is December 31. Sascoc will announce the SA Commonwealth cycling team on January 25.