Following the team selection policies from different provinces makes for very interesting reading. We basically have two ends of the world with Athletics Gauteng North following a strategy that is all inclusive selecting the maximum ASA allowed size team of 18 athletes, and then you have Boland Athletics following a policy that is closely aligned with the ASA school of thought were athletes are selected according to qualifying times (yes you are reading correctly ) qualifying times for cross country, resulting in the provinces only selecting one or two athletes per age group and no athletes in some age groups. The rest of the provinces are pretty much bundled in between these two opposing strategies. Central Gauteng Athletics traditionally follows a very strict selection policy with only the top six athletes gaining selection even with the vast talent available in the province. It is hard to criticise the CGA policy as for up to this year 2018 they have been on the top of the medal table at SA cross country championships. In recent years Athletics Free State, Mpumalanga Athletics, and KZN Athletics started following the AGN model in selecting bigger and bigger teams especially in the younger age categories.
Lets look at the numbers
At the recently completed SA championships in Port Elizabeth, Athletics Gauteng North for the first time tops the medal table with a total of 69 medals. A clear indication that the policy of selecting the maximum allowed team size over the past couple of years is finally paying dividends. One often hear criticism against the province for selecting such big teams, but if you have a closer look at the results you will find that most of the 18th selected athlete from the province finds himself or herself in the top 50 athletes at the National championship. CGA finds itself second on the medal table, and other provinces also following all inclusive selection policies such as KZN, AFS, and AMPU finds themself's third,fourth, and fifth on the medal table. Now lets look at the other end of the scale. Boland Athletics with the most restrictive selection policy walks aways with two individual medals and zero team medals, lingering in the 13th position on the medal table.
Who is building cross country runners for the future, fortunately figures do not lie. AGN with the most inclusive selection policy bagged the most medals 69, and CGA that runs excellence driven highly competitive league ran away with the second most medals 61. KZN,AFS,AMPU all selecting large teams took home 27,25, and 15 medals respectively. Then you have Boland Athletcis that makes it as hard as possible for young talents to compete at SA Champs only banking 2 medals. I think the answer is a easy one.