South African Athletics

SA athletes are 'more talented' than Kenyans

2016-05-12 11:29
Hendrick Ramaala (Gallo)

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 distances.

“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 about it.

“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 their country.”

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 sport.

“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.

Read more on:    hendrick ramaala  |  athletics
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