Johannesburg - Former Olympic marathon athlete Hendrick
Ramaala is convinced South Africa is blessed with more talent than Kenya when
it comes to long distance running.
The 44-year old law graduate from the University of
Witwatersrand has represented South Africa at four Olympic Games in his career.
He competed in the 10 000m in Atlanta in 1996. In Sydney in 2000, Athens in
2004 and Beijing in 2008 he participated in the marathon.
He is currently coaching Sibusiso Nzima and Lungile Gongqa.
Both these athletes as well as Lusapho April will be representing South Africa
at the Olympic Games in August in Rio de Janeiro.
“I am convinced that SA athletes are much more talented than
the Kenyans - especially those that come from the rural areas of South Africa,”
Ramaala said in Sandton on Tuesday where the Nedbank Athletic Club hosted a
send-off for their Comrades and Olympic athletes.
Ramaala believes South Africa has superior resources and a
better infrastructure than Kenya and with all the talent at our disposal in the
country, we should be dominating world athletics particularly in the longer
“I believe the only difference between the two countries is
that Kenya invests much more in their athletes when it comes to appointing
qualified coaches to manage programmes that unearths and nurtures talent.
“In South Africa there is enough money. Unfortunately the
Department of Sport does not spend their budget wisely and nothing gets done
“I am coaching two Olympic marathon athletes, but have to do
everything on my own.
“When athletes prepare for the Olympic Games, they have to
get the necessary support from the government. After all they are representing
Ramaala believes that training camps are necessities
especially for distance athletes to be successful.
“The athletes not only have to follow scientific training
programmes, but proper nutrition is a fundamental requirement,” he explained.
Ramaala says the winner of the Olympic Marathon in London in
2012, Stephen Kiprotich from Uganda, came through a structured programme under
the guidance of Roberto Salazar in America.
He believes South Africa needs something similar.
“Besides training camps, we also need lots of money to drive
this sort of initiative.
“Athletics South Africa (ASA) and the Department of Sport
have enough money.
“The minister of sport, Fikile Mbalula, boasted recently
about R600 million that they have in their coffers for the development of
“I would like to see that the money is not wasted and is
spent in a constructive way.
“ASA are like travel agents. All they do is to see who
qualifies for the Olympics and then pay for their flights and accommodation.
“They don’t get involved in the preparation of athletes.
That is not an ideal situation,” added Ramaala.
Ramaala is a former winner of the New York Marathon. He is
still the South African record holder in the 10 000m of 27 minutes 29.94
seconds. This was set on 22 February 1999 in Port Elizabeth.