Team SA heads east | SASCOC - SASCOC

Team SA heads east

By Mark Etheridge

Sports minister Makhenkesi Stofile on Sunday sent Team South Africa on its way to the 2009 World Games in Taiwan with a battle-cry ringing loudly in their ears.

“Remember, You are not only ambassadors for your country but you are legionnaires with a mission to defend your country and bring back those medals,” Stofile told the team at the Johannesburg farewell banquet.

The team of 89 athletes and officials fly out to Kaohsiung City on Monday, with the Games starting on July 16 and ending on July 26.

Head of delegation and SASCOC second vice-president, Les Williams said: I’ve had a chance to visit Taiwan recently and see the venues. They are excellent and athletes should be able to perform to their maximum potential.”

The last World Games were held in Duisberg, Germany in 2005 and South Africa brought five medals home, including silver in the Sevens Rugby code and Paul Treu’s squad once again represent one of the team’s best medal hopes.

SASCOC president Gideon Sam warned the team that it was not going to be easy: “I hear it’s going to be something like 35 degrees Celcius but still, there are no excuses. The recent Student Games in Belgrade have shown that we are on the right track in terms of improving our sport.

“At the same time, I want to encourage the team to seek every opportunity to improve their lives and reach out to their fellow athletes and competitors. This is a great chance for upliftment.”

Jerry Masia, chef de mission of the SA team said the Games were the result of “four years of blood, sweat and tears that must now pay-off.

“I want to remind the team to help play a part in being interactive for the cause of world peace but they must remember that on the field there are no friends.”

South Africa will have representation in 13 out of 26 sports and apart from the Sevens Rugby possible medals could most likely to come from waterskiing and lifesaving.

The opening ceremony is July 16 and orienteers Nicholas Mulder and Tania Wimberley will be the first South Africans in action on Friday and Saturday.