Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT: ECONOMICS -

a world-class triath­lete from Cape Town, and a con­tender for the medal podium be­lieves “a few things are lack­ing in South Africa with re­gards to the struc­ture and build­ing of the Olympic Team. Per­son­ally,” says Mur­ray, “I find that the South African team is one big fam­ily and not run like a busi­ness as is done in most other coun­tries. Bet­ter plan­ning and in­sight need to be used, as we have more than enough tal­ent in this coun­try.”

Sascoc has had the habit of choos­ing fewer com­peti­tors in or­der, they say, to have a unit of ex­cel­lence, and pre­sum­ably to get more “bang for its buck”. But Mur­ray shows why this can­not only be short-sighted, but coun­ter­pro­duc­tive.

“From triathlon’s point of view,” Mur­ray con­tends, “many gave in to the strin­gent qual­i­fi­ca­tion pro­ce­dure of be­com­ing top 20 but you only need to be ranked in the top 120 by the In­ter­na­tional Triathlon Union, to qual­ify for the Olympics. This year, I very much needed a team­mate with me, as this would have boosted my chances for an Olympic medal as most other coun­tries sent two to three ath­letes.”

In fact, that strat­egy came into play pre­cisely as Mur­ray de­scribes, lead­ing to a gold and bronze medal for Bri­tain’s Brown­lee brothers. Both brothers were aided by a third Bri­tish ath­lete who guided them through the cy­cling l eg i n par­tic­u­lar. “My event has be­come more of a team event, as more and more coun­tries are im­ple­menti ng a do­mes­tique ( helper) to help the stronger run­ner have a bet­ter chance at a medal. I was alone, and this makes things that bit more dif­fi­cult to bring it home.” The same strat­egy is used in cy­cling.

In terms of fund­ing, Mur­ray says that “many ath­letes don’t get fund­ing un­til they get a medal or are very close, and this means they will take years to get there, al­most en­tirely self funded ... A lot of the smaller sports have been the medal bringers and this shows that there is a di­ver­sity of tal­ent and skills in South African sport. With bet­ter fund­ing to the smaller sports, we will im­prove that bit more.”

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