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.”