President's Voice – Gideon Sam | SASCOC - SASCOC

President’s Voice – Gideon Sam

The big talking point in South African sport over the next few months will be around the criteria set by us for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
There will be those who feel the criteria are too stringent and don’t encourage athletes to want to be in sport and others will argue that going to represent your country at the Olympics should not be at the cost of lowering the standards just because we want to be making up the numbers at the Olympics.
Surely we still have some pride in South African sport and being competitive at all the Games means a lot to us as a nation.
We sent a team to the London Olympics using a very strict criteria and we came back with six  medals. There are those who argue that had we sent a bigger team, we could have brought back more medals… but I fail to see the logic of this.
New Zealand, with a population of just 4.5 million, took a team to London and came away with 13 medals.
Quite clearly we should look at quality athletes and not the quantity that we take to the Games.
There is only one way of looking at what we should be doing in this country. Take the swimming Federation that constantly contributes to the medal tally of teams at the Commonwealth Games and Olympics yet are battling to (and please excuse the pun) keep their heads above water.
But we still expect them to perform and bring home medals. And before anyone asks what SASCOC are doing about it, ask why corporate South Africa is shunning our best performers over the years? What about Athletics? Yes, they have had problems of governance but I have seen many instances of bailout for some companies who were no better than our athletics Federation.
We are not residents of an animal farm and fairness must prevail. As the sports sector we have not been treated fairly by a number of institutions and this must stop. It’s pointless talking about corruption in sport when so many volunteers sacrifice so much to keep sport going in this country.
So, back to my earlier point of sending quality teams to the Olympics.

We will field these teams if the following is tackled with speed:
Give Physical Education and school sport far more attention than is currently the case;
Do not build new infrastructure but properly maintain what we already have;
Professionalise sport at the High Performance level;
Start building proper sport structures from at least district/metro level upwards;
Prioritise funding and first create a culture of winning in your selected sport for others to emulate.
Then there will be no need for debates about criteria because the best of a total population of South Africans, not just a small minority, but the total population will be given a fair chance to represent South Africa.

Getting back to the field of play and we must congratulate Anaso Jobodwana on his SA 200m record of 20.06 in the United States and it’s good to see our athletes continuing to shine, despite the negativity over that federation. Wenda Theron (remember her giving her absolute all at the All Africa Games in Maputo four years ago?), is coming good and leads the 400m hurdles world rankings.
Well done to our Blitzboks for ending second on the World Sevens table. It was ever so close as to whether they’d win it but they’ll be under no illusions as to how hard it is to win a medal in Rio next year. The world has upped their game in the last few years.
On the water Bridgitte Hartley continues to show us why she won a bronze medal at the Olympics four years ago. She might not have won a medal at the World Cup sprint event in Duisberg but she looks to be in the right groove for better things!
Our badminton team came back from China having won their crossover pool match against Italy and getting in some great international experience in front of crowds they are totally unaccustomed to back home so all good for the future.
And on the para-rowing side of things, congrats to our guys and girls in Italy who also brought some medals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *