President's Voice ÔÇô Gideon Sam | SASCOC - SASCOC

President’s Voice ÔÇô Gideon Sam

The Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa recently met in Cote ‘d Voire, Abidjan, to work out a strategy of how to ┬áimprove the continent’s performance at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio 2016.

There is a realisation amongst the African countries that money gest distributed to prepare athletes, but the return on investment remains poor. Hard and harsh words were said and I think for the first time since I have been attending these meetings did I get a sense that the Olympic leaders on the continent are serious.

In the end the target of 50 medals for Africa was set for the Rio Games and now it is up to individual countries to review their strategies and deliver on the goods. So far it is Ethiopia, Kenya and ourselves that are making a contribution to the medal tally in a reasonable way. Others like Botswana and Uganda contribute in a small way.

The spirit of the round table was that there is a need for closer cooperation in the build-up to Rio without undermining each country’s effort to bring back medals. This is indeed something that we as a country will support.

On Saturday we had our first Council meeting for the year at Olympic House and the outcome of the strategic workshop of the Board was tabled. The strategy builds on what we had in the last quadrennial and will focus strongly on the athletes and the coaches.

To achieve this we are going to have to put the resources behind our athletes and coaches. The Council endorsed the strategy and now we are going full steam towards Rio with the federations understanding that we need to be focused and do away with matters that distract us from the task at hand.

We have to run a clean ship to entice sponsors into our sport. We are happy with the responses from our members and will feedback from time to time what progress is being made.

Unfortunately we have to move in and help Athletics South Africa again, as we have previously done. It’s sad to have to do this but we have to ensure that squabbling and infighting doesn’t impact negatively on our athletes.

We also touched on the fact that funding is as crucial as ever and our federations are going to have be very innovative and think out of the box or run the risk of sinking without trace.

We were well received at the Portfolio Committee this week, where we gave the Committee an update on our plans for Rio 2016. The interaction that followed the presentation showed that the Committee was hugely interested in the work that we do at SASCOC.

There was also a subtle warning that we should get the federations to be in the media for the right reasons and not the controversies that they read about in the media. We promised to address this matter and assured them that we will continue to take whatever steps necessary to correct what is wrong in some of our federations.

The explosions at the Boston Marathon came as a huge shock to us because we never expected something like that to happen. We are confident that the USA authorities will get to the bottom of this dastardly deed and that the London Marathon will go off smoothly.

The UK authorities have assured all the athletes and spectators that the security will heightened and we have no reason not believe them. Our condolences go out to the families of those who lost their lives and that the injured will be on the road again soon in defiance of those who want us to live in constant fear.

It was good to see our athletes performing well at the national athletics championships in Stellenbosch. Well done to Simon Magakwe for a fifth 100m sprint title and it was encouraging to see a fair bit of new talent coming to the fore.

What was not good was to see was the below-par green pool that our swimmers were faced with at the Nationals in Port Elizabeth. Swimming South Africa already has its own problems and this was certainly not a good advert for the sport, which brought back three medals from the London Olympics.

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