Sam targets 12 London medals
Cape Town – SASCOC president Gideon Sam has announced a special programme for South Africa’s Olympians that will hopefully reap results in London’s Olympic Games next year.
The South African Olympic team only managed to bring home a solitary medal from the last Summer Olympiad in Beijing in 2008, with Khotso Mokoena’s silver medal in the men’s long jump competition.
However, Sam is targeting as many as 12 medals at next year and firmly believes that it is well within the South African’s capabilities.
“You start looking at the federations you are going to punt for 2012; swimming - three medals minimum. If you take the top 10 swimmers, with a coach and an assistant and put him at a university, you’ll get your three medals no doubt,” Sam told Thursday’s Cape Times.
“We said the same about athletics - just give us three medals. Already you are at six. In cycling, we said we’ll look at two, you are looking at Burry Stander (mountain biking), who has already qualified, and Sifiso Nhlapo (BMX).
“If you take boxing seriously as we are doing now, then we look at the whole country and we can go: ‘we’ve got nine or 10 men and women’. We’ve got five women who are trying to qualify.”
Women’s boxing will make its first appearance on the Olympic schedule at next year’s Games.
“We looked at judo, where we have a young athlete (Jacques van Zyl) performing very well overseas and we said to ourselves, two from boxing and judo, and we should get there. Then we said rowing, if we get one medal from rowing and one from canoeing, we have the 12,” explained Sam.
Sam went onto say that SASCOC looked into the world’s best in every Olympic sport and tried to identify which South Africans are amongst the world’s best in their respective disciplines.
He went onto explain that deals were struck with the ‘targeted’ federations to place the identified athletes or teams into a strict programme in the final eight months leading up to the London Games, which starts on July 27 next year.
This means that all identified parties will have to notify SASCOC of their status at all times such as informing them of things like their whereabouts, diets, training schedule, competition schedule, travelling schedule and whether they make use of local facilities or train overseas.
Sam also mentioned that for South Africa to be successful at the Olympics, they have to narrow the focus to the most popular, lucrative sports such as Rugby, Soccer and Cricket.
“The only sports that will be in the limelight will be football, rugby and cricket, because of the sponsorships they get. If we want to be serious, we must find out (which sport) is number four, five, etc.
“I am still confident of getting the 12 medals. I have to be. If I am not, I would have misled the country.”