SA athletes left high and dry ahead of Doha Diamond League | SASCOC - SASCOC

SA athletes left high and dry ahead of Doha Diamond League

By Mark Etheridge

Six of our top athletes get their European outdoor season underway in Doha, Qatar on Friday evening as the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland draw ever closer.

And already it’s been a tale of two journeys just to get to the season’s opening IAAF Diamond League meeting.

Javelin ace Sunette Viljoen and long/triple jumpers Khotso Mokoena and Zarck Visser left for Doha on Wednesday with no fuss. Not so for the other half of the continent, Middle distance aces Andre Olivier, Johan Cronje and discus giant Victor Hogan, pictured right.

That trio only got to Qatar in the wee hours of Friday morning, competition day, so hardly an ideal pre-competition preparation.

Said Olivier on Thursday: “We took off at 3.15pm on Wednesday but after 20 minutes or so we turned back to OR Tambo. So we were stuck in Johannesburg and only fly out the same time on Thursday.

“So we’ll have to race the same night we get there! But I’m ready, training has been going well, so we’ll just have to sleep on the plane. I just want to get there now and be as fresh as I can for the race. No real goals right now, I just want to run and see where I am.”

Said Cronje: “We’ll only get there in the early hours but my training has gone well since SA’s and I’ll use this meeting as a measure of where I am with my progress. A 3:34 or 3:35 will show me that I’m on course for the Commonwealth Games.

Hogan was suffering the most of the delayed trio as he had the additional flight from Cape Town to cope with. “So I’m already a bit stiff and then there are eight hours to Doha, so that makes things more difficult.”

Asked what distance he was looking for, he told Road to Rio 2016: “I never really like talking about what I’m going to do and there are some really good guys competing in the discus so I’m must going to have to make up my mind to not let circumstances get a hold of me and stay strong.”

Hogan tore the skin on his finger two weeks ago, at precisely the spot where the discus makes contact and has also had a few problems with his left knee “but I think I’ve fixed that and sometimes, coming out of rough conditions can make you perform better.”

There were more last minute fears before they left OR Tambo as they managed to find the last seats on a jam-packed flight to Doha…

The trio will no doubt be hoping that some soaring performances on Friday will make up for their delayed flights.

Friday night’s Diamond League action will be broadcast on SuperSport 9 from 6pm.