SA sinks by world standards

2009-02-17 14:23
New Sport24 columnist, Roland Schoeman (File)
Roland Schoeman

I just want to thank Sport24 for having me on board as their newest columnist. From the very beginning I'm going to say, I am an expert on the field of swimming and training for it - and it’s my objective to be brutally honest and opinionated.

However, when the time arises for me to write on something other than swimming I will try and be as factual as possible, but please understand that these will be my opinions. You'll either agree with what I say or not.
I have been living in SA now since the Olympic Games and have decided that I will attempt to base myself in this wonderful country of ours. I’ve been living overseas in Tucson, Arizona for 10 years, away from family, friends and the country I grew up in. Based on this and the quest to find sponsors I’m trying to make the most of things in South Africa.
This week's burning question then: Why do all our top swimmers head overseas?

Plain and simple.

We don’t have the facilities or the competition. We have meager resources at best. Aside from that the simple truth is that South African sport is largely driven and controlled by politicians.
In the US everything is catered for from day one. The university system largely fits around you as an athlete. Scholarships are awarded for tens of thousands of dollars a semester and you are able to obtain an internationally recognised degree.

You are training and competing in multi-million dollar facilities, given medical aids, put on meal plans and have access to top coaches, nutritionists, sports scientists. The university views you as an investment and is willing to do everything in its power for you as an athlete to be the best and to help them win a national championship. It’s a relationship from day one. It isn’t about the coaches, the managers, the athletic directors. It's about the athlete.
This I am sad to say is the biggest thing we are missing in this country.

Look at the UK, Australia and the USA. Look at how many millions and millions of dollars are invested on a yearly basis to ensure their athletes bring home medals. SASCOC want their athletes to come away from the Olympics with medals. Well then the simple fact of the matter is that they are going to have to look at the other international models of success and adopt those.
If SASCOC and corporate South Africa doesn’t start investing now for 2012 and 2016 we can’t expect to win any more medals than in our last outing and as far as I am concerned with the talent that we have in this country that just isn’t acceptable.

We need to catch a wake up and it needs to be quick. Sport in this country needs to be run as a business by competent individuals who have the skills and the know how.

It’s my goal to actively force for these changes and I need the help of everyone out there. We need to call for greater accountability.

Roland is a multiple Olympic medal winner... and an avid Blue Bulls supporter.

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