The citizens of Pietermaritzburg braved an unyielding heavy shower to witness the official launch of the first leg of the inaugural Africa Athletics League (AAL) at the new Msunduzi Athletics Stadium on Saturday, 22 September.
Aleck Skhosana, Acting for CAA Southern Region President: “Firstly, we are happy that this event was eventually staged after the pre-event uncertainties. We thank the Mayor and the City for such a great athletics facility and for partnering CAA Southern Africa to stage the event at a beautiful world-class venue.
“This event suits athletes who have no sponsors and in particular those who cannot access elite international competitions overseas, to be able to have a good preparation in their own region to improve their respective performances and stand a chance to access competitions like the IAAF Diamond League and others.”
Themba Mjoli, the Mayor of Msunduzi Municipality: “We are so happy that this facility, which we have been working on since 2011, has finally opened up for use. This marks a dawn of new era and we are confident that the best is yet to come through this facility.
“It offers the youth and the people of Pietermaritzburg the opportunity of new careers and for the hosting of world events right here in the City of Choice. We look forward to the possible staging of this event again next year.”
Albert Serake, President of Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association: “This is a brilliant concept which we should be proud of as a region. It is important that as national federations we should support our own brands as this is about the athletes, their development and their success.
“We are happy with the level of hosting and I can comfortably say the competition benefitted our athletes. We just need to improve on the attendance by sister countries as this will benefit the whole region. One is confident that this event will rise to level of the IAAF Diamond League.”
Munya Maraire, the event organiser and CEO of Worldwide Scholarships: “Despite the uncertainty caused by the court case the day before and the heavy downpour that affected crowd attendance, we are satisfied that this event finally happened as a lot of work was put in behind the scenes. This event affords athletes in the region to compete with other top athletes from around the world.
“I thank Msunduzi Municipality and African Diamond Council for coming on board and for sharing in the vision of great competition and great opportunities with the community of Pietermaritzburg and the Southern Africa. We brought top class athletes from around the world including USA, Jamaica and South Africa. We are looking forward to returning to this great facility, bigger and better. We are now working on the second leg of the AAL.”
Khotso Mokoena of South Africa, AAL ambassador (2008 IAAF World Indoor Championships gold medal, 2008 Olympic Games Long Jump silver): “It makes me proud to be part of this initiative as it affords us who are already elite to compete against athletes who need such exposure at this level of elite competition.”
Inika McPherson of USA, AAL ambassador (Olympian & 2014 US Indoor High Jump champion): “I’ve had a great time is South Africa and I enjoyed the competition. I’m happier I managed to win my event. I’d definitely be glad to come back here if invited again. It’s been a great opportunity for me as well.”
Saniel Atkinson-Grier of Jamaica, AAL High Jump silver medal winner: “I’m definitely coming back. I loved it here. It’s a shame about the things that affected a good-intended concept but I’m an athlete and I enjoyed the experience of competition. I’m proud of my performance because I was already off-season when I decided to come back for ‘Maritzburg three weeks ago.”
Simon Magakwe of RSA, AAL 100m silver medal (CAA African Senior Championships bronze medal): “I’m happy with the time I ran (10:08) to end my 2018 season in my own country. It’s an amazing competition concept that has great potential to grow Southern Africa athletics. I look forward to another opportunity to be part of it.”
Emile Erasmus of RSA, AAL 100m winner (2018 Commonwealth Games 4x100m relay silver, 2018 CAA African Championships 4x100m relay gold): “A win and running my third best time (10:04) is a perfect way to end my season. It was great competition and I can now go into off season until November. I deserve a rest.”
The Africa Athletics League is a flagship Track & Field brand of the CAA Southern Africa, the mother body to 14 countries (Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Kingdom of Eswatini, Namibia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe).
The second leg of the AAL awaits confirmation for December 2018.