10 is Sam’s magic number
Sascoc reiterate they will only take the worthy to Rio 2016
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.