10 is Sam’s magic num­ber

Sas­coc re­it­er­ate they will only take the wor­thy to Rio 2016

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - KEVIN MCCAL­LUM

AFTER the bravado of the pre­dic­tion of 12 medals from the 2012 London Olympics, Gideon Sam, the pres­i­dent of the South African Sport Con­fed­er­a­tions and Olympic Com­mit­tee (Sas­coc), took a more mod­er­ate stance yes­ter­day when he set a tar­get of 10 medals from the 2016 Games in Rio.

It is, after the 40 medals at the Com­mon­wealth Games in Glas­gow, what Sam hopes is an achiev­able to­tal. It is four more than won in London and, well, a lot more than Beijing 2008.

Medals cost money, and Sas­coc an­nounced a pared-down Op­er­a­tion Ex­cel­lence, with fewer ath­letes than be­fore. Con­cen­trat­ing the share of money for medals seems to be the so­lu­tion to get­ting more medals. After a re­view in Septem­ber of the 82 ath­letes on the pro­gramme, 58 re­main and two new names have been added.

Chad le Clos was top of the list and the man Sas­coc will be hop­ing brings them at least three medals if they are to reach their to­tal of 10.

Cameron van der Burgh is still there, while those who im­pressed in ath­let­ics in Glas­gow have cracked the nod. Sam spoke for 45 min­utes at yes­ter­day’s press con­fer­ence, in which he took great pains to make the point that the fail­ure of ath­letes to make the grade for the Olympics would be the fault of the na­tional fed­er­a­tions and not Sas­coc.

“It’s been a long year for us. Sas­coc came into ex­is­tence 10 years ago,” said Sam. “As we stand now, we have our work cut out for us. After our ind­aba of 2011, we drew a line in the sand as to how we op­er­ate on all lev­els, from fed­er­a­tions to Sas­coc. We con­cen­trate on high per­for­mance.

“Any high per­for­mance at na­tional fed­er­a­tion level, that is our con­cern. We mon­i­tor how ath­letes do. Fed­er­a­tions present the ath­letes to us, and we de­liver them to the games.

“We say to the fed­er­a­tions that if you want us to be in Tokyo in 2020, how can you give us one medal from the Youth Olympics? We can­not take peo­ple who are not go­ing to per­form. We can­not take a team of 300 and come back with four medals. It’s nice to say: ‘I’m an Olympian’, but you must earn it. You must get top three or top five, but you can’t just go there and just be there.”

The rigid­ity of the se­lec­tion poli­cies of Sas­coc has caused much con­tro­versy in the past.

Ath­letes who have qual­i­fied for the Olympics have not been cho­sen, denying them the chance to gain the in­tense ex­pe­ri­ence of a multi-sport event, which, as swimming has shown, is vi­tal for fu­ture suc­cess.

GIDEON SAM

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.