President's Voice – Gideon Sam | SASCOC - SASCOC

President’s Voice – Gideon Sam

Watching the competitors in the recent IAAF Diamond League athletics competition I realised that we compete in only a few of the events on offer.

One of the reasons why we could not stay in front of New Zealand in the recent Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia was that they were competitive in far more events than South Africa.

As a country we rely on athletics and swimming to carry the bulk of the burden when it comes to winning medals at these big events.

It makes one suddenly yearn for the days of Jacques Freitag and Hestrie Cloete in the high jump and Llewellyn Herbert in the 400m hurdles.
We truly need to build more depth in a number of events to be really competitive at a higher level.

Many Federations will openly tell you that to keep their athletes on the international circuit and to gain points to qualify easily for big events, remains a challenge.

It’s not easy for Federations with a small budget to keep on sending their athletes overseas for competition.

Some Federations get only one bite of the cherry to qualify through good performances at the World Champs or such qualifying events.

I’ve been thinking that a way around this challenge is to set up training camps in countries where our athletes can also get some competition through national events in those countries.

We cannot sit back, fold our arms and hope to qualify for events like the Olympics where we know it is very much dog-eat-dog.  Our athletes must be assisted through their Federations to be battle-ready for big events.

To this end, we at SASCOC recently signed an Agreement with the City of Iizuka in the province of Fukuoka in Japan to help our para-athletes with training facilities in preparation for the 2020 Paralympics.

We owe it to all our athletes to give them an opportunity to do their best after thoroughly preparing for the Games.

The plan going forward is to announce a preliminary squad for the Olympic and Paralympic Games some time in August and afford the athletes all the support that we can muster.

There is a need to focus our energies and resources on the athletes that are doing well on the circuit. So, let us take out the emotions when it comes to preparing a competitive team or teams to represent South Africa.

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