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Team SA ready

By Mark Etheridge

Team South Africa were given a rousing send-off in Johannesburg on Monday night as they headed off to Maputo, Mozambique and the All Africa Games.

The team of more than 300 athletes and officials will be in action from 3-18 September and are aiming to end the continental competition as top dogs.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula had earlier in the day begun the send-off to the South African rugby team as they depart for New Zealand and the defence of their Rugby World Cup title and made time to say goodbye to the Africa Games team.

“No team must leave these shores without a proper send-off,” said Mbalula. “The All Africa Games will add value to the journey of sports development and you must know that all of South Africa are behind you.

“Use these games to prepare for the ultimate battle in 2012 at the Olympic Games and remember that the more you sweat in practise, the less you bleed in battle.”

SASCOC CEO Tubby Reddy urged the team to give of their best at all time. “I ask you to knuckle down as conditions are not always going to be as good as you would normally expect but be good ambassadors and come back safe and sound.. and as No1’s.”

For his part, SASCOC President Gideon Sam said that the team must send out a clear message. “We are an economic power in Africa. People look up to us so it’s up to them to demonstrate to them how to compete. Countries are catching up and it’s up to us to show them.”

The team’s boxing and volleyball teams left on Monday already as they are expected to be first to compete but the bulk of the team, apart from athletes competing at the World Athletics Championships, were at the send-off.

Among them was one of the youngest team members, 13-year-old Optimist sailor, David Wilson, the Grade 8 Somerset College pupil “hoping to win a medal” in Mozambique.

Netball captain Precious Mthembu was also there. “Some of the top players aren’t here but we’re all from a 30-strong squad so we’ll give of our best.”


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