With the national team having delivered its best performance at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships over the weekend, Athletics South Africa (ASA) President James Moloi, believes the country's elite distance runners have again shown their potential at the highest level of the sport.
Precious Mashele was the best of the SA athletes in individual races at the global championships in Bathurst, Australia on Saturday, taking 16th position in the senior men's 10km contest.
In the team competitions, the national squad managed to give their opponents a real shake.
After a superb start by Ryan Mphahlele in the mixed relay, the SA team held on to secure fourth position.
In the junior men's race, Rosslee also led the squad to fourth place in the team competition, while the nation's senior athletes took fifth place in the team competition in the men's 10km contest.
Speaking at the squad's arrival at OR Tambo International on Monday, Moloi said he was delighted with the team's results.
"I want to congratulate the team for their performances. They ran very well," Moloi said.
"To finish in position four in the whole world counts for a lot, so these were good results from the athletes. Our guys did very well."
Moloi admitted, however, that the key to improved results would depend largely on the national federation's ability to strengthen development at provincial level.
If ASA were able to achieve this, he said he believed local athletes would compete better against the world's best, including cross country giants Kenya and Ethiopia.
"In another two years, some of these athletes can be in the top three (at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships). But we must first go to all provinces and strengthen our development if we want to win this event."
"Many of our athletes are young and unknown and if we can get a pool of them together I think we can do very well against the rest of the world.
"Perhaps we can subsidise the provinces, give them scorecards and tell them 'if you produce two or three cross country athletes, we will be happy'.
"If we do this, I think Athletics South Africa can go far, but we have to strengthen our development. That is a must."