Cape Town — Athletics South Africa (ASA) have sent a 12 -member team to the IAU 50km World Championships in Romania, which will get underway on Sunday, September 1.
According to a press release, ASA president Aleck Skhosana issued a clear mandate to the SA team saying that they "must bring back the world title".
"When it comes to ultra-distance, the whole world looks to South Africa because that is our speciality in road-running," he said. "When it comes to standard marathons and below, that is ruled by others, but we are strongest on ultra-distance.
Skhosana stated that he expects nothing but gold and that there will be no excuse for a sub-standard performance in Romania.
"The athletes before us today have no excuse to perform sub-standard because you are the best that we are sending. We therefore expect gold from the male and female teams. We also expect each athlete to achieve individual performances and positional fight for the podium," he said.
Skhosana admitted that they were not even considering sending a team to Europe, however, it was the promising athletes that changed ASA's mindset.
"When we sent a team to the 100km last year, they came back with honours and that's your mandate today. The only way to achieve this is by having a fully-disciplined team," said Skhosana.
"Initially, ASA was not going to send a team to this event because we were concentrating all our resources to the IAAF World Championships in Doha next month, but it was these very athletes who changed our minds to send a team."
The 12-member squad departs on Wednesday at 6pm for Istanbul, Turkey where they will take a two-hour flight to Romania.
They will be aiming for the country's first medal at the championships since Sandile Ngunuza earned silver in the men's race in Galway, Ireland in 2010.
Coach Nick Bester accepted ASA's bold mandate for the 12-member squad, saying that he was confident that they would come out on top.
"My instruction is that we all run as a team. We will accept no bail-outs from the race. We leave as a team, run as a team and win as a team. Once again, I applaud ASA for being bold in sending this delegation and sending it as a full team," said Bester.
"We are one of few countries who will be sending full teams. If I look at how we performed in the 100km champs where the women team surprised us with a silver medal, I'm confident we shall have good results."
Men: Bongmusa Mthembu (KZNA), David Gatebe (ANWN), Edward Mothibi (AGN), Lungile Gongqa (WPA), Charles Tjiane (CGA), Joseph Manyedi (AGN)
Women: Salome Cooper (CGA), Ntombesintu Mfunzi (EPA), Yolande McLean (CGA), Fikile Mbuthuma (KZNA), Tanith Maxwell (CGA), Deanne Horn (AGN)