Olympics: Petranoff laments S African disunity

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TOM PETRANOFF, the United States-born javelin thrower who wanted to represent South Africa but was denied by a dispute in his adopted country's athletics association, said yesterday there were losers other than himself.

Petranoff, who is training in Finland, was left out when the dispute between the factions - one, white- led, wanted him to participate while the black group opposed him for having broken sanctions - remained unresolved when the deadline for Olympic accreditation passed at midnight on Tuesday.

'There is a sad case of disunity in South African sports, and I feel like I am a pawn in it,' Petranoff said. 'The athletes are supposed to be the entertainment of the Games, but in the end the Games loses, the athlete loses, the sport loses - but the officials lose nothing.

'If I was black and I was in the same position I think I would be on the team. The sad part of this thing is that it comes down to colour.'

Petranoff said that, in June, he was nominated as fourth on a list of 18 track athletes by the Athletics South Africa management committee, consisting of half whites and half blacks.

'It's kind of ironic that back in June I was OK, but now I'm not OK,' said Petranoff, who has the fifth best throw in the world this year and on Monday threw 86.7 metres. 'Nobody has even given me the decency of a phone call to enlighten me on the situation.'