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President’s Voice – Gideon Sam

The dust seems to have settled down around the criteria put forward by Athletics South Africa (ASA) around Olympic qualification for the marathon runners.
Sometimes we just need to all sit around a table and make sense of what has been put on paper to avoid misinterpretation of the written word.
Misunderstandings that can lead to unnecessary panic among coaches and athletes as well as members of the media must be avoided as we enter the final stretch of preparation for the Games in Rio.
The only thing that should be on our minds is how we are going to make this country proud. We are keeping an eye on the developments around the Zika virus and thus far no real panic buttons have been pressed.
The South African Sports Association for the Physically Disabled will meet in the Free State this month to assess the strength of our athletes who are physically disabled as we look towards putting a team together for the Paralympic Games.
Athletes coming from these Nedbank National Championships have previously been a good barometer as to what we can expect in Games following these Championships. So we invite all our Free State based National Federations to come out in your numbers to support these Championships.
We are also very excited about the programme we’re putting together to take al our qualifiers around the country to meet the public.
We need the support of the country behind all our athletes who will wear the green and gold in Rio. To get that support we need to introduce the athletes to the broader public. Visit our website where further details will appear and come out to meet the athletes… it will mean so much to them.
Meanwhile it’s all systems go for our sportsmen in this oh so crucial period ahead of the Games.
Our swimmers have been busy around the country during the SA Grand Prix series and now it’s on to the crucial national championships and Olympic qualification event next month.
I must say, I’m also impressed with the country’s race-walkers and it seems that these guys are breaking records left, right and centre. Lebogang Shange, Wayne Snyman and 2012 Olympian Marc Mundell have been busy walking to records and personal bests while training with the best in Australia.
And congrats too to our veteran wheelchair athlete Ernst van Dyk who raced to second in the recent Tokyo Marathon.
On the indoor arena our sprinters Carina Horn and Henricho Bruintjies also showed some promising turns of speed!
Then, our badminton men did well in Mauritius, qualifying for the Thomas Cup in China in two months time.
It was also good to see some new winners pop up at the SA cycling championships in the shape of Juanita Venter and An-Li Kachelhoffer. Our golfers are also running into some nice form ahead of Rio with Louis Oosthuizen winning in Perth at the weekend and Branden Grace also hovering around the top 10 mark.
And our hockey teams continue to take on top class opposition with Germany, India and Scotland all in action against our men and women locally.
The Blitzbok sevens rugby side are in the United States now for the next two legs of the series and you can be sure we’ll be up in the early hours to watch their progress before this code makes its Olympic debut in Rio.
And our 2012 sailors, Asenathi Jim and Roger Hudson, continue to get better and better. After leaving it so late to qualify for London, these guys are now mixing it with the very best and just missed a top 10 spot at the recent 470 World Champs. And of course we also have another sailor, Stefano Marcia who has provisionally qualified as well.
And we must never forget out para-tennis players, KG Montjane, Lucas Sithole and Evans Maripa who continue to impress on the courts around the world.
So all in all we are looking solid… South Africa DOES have sporting talent!


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