R400m boost for SA Olympians

2009-02-18 12:06

Johannesburg - South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee president Gideon Sam Wednesday confirmed a R400 million National Lottery grant for South Africa's 2012 Olympic Games challenge.

Sam, in announcing details of the Road to London campaign, said funding was essential to South Africa's success but added that funding alone would not improve the country's Olympic Games record.

"There has to be structure. There has to be the right talent identification and there has to be a plan over the next four years that gives the impetus to continued planning for 2016. There also has to be unemotional identification of sporting codes that have delivered medals or alternatively have the athletes with the potential to deliver on any emotional and financial investment," he said.

Sam, since taking office in December, has been actively engaging with representatives from all the major tertiary institutions to establish the effectiveness of the infrastructure in South Africa. He has also been consulting various people, who he believes can influence the ideal of transforming South Africa's medal haul in London in 2012.

"It has been a hectic and rewarding last six weeks and from what I have experienced we certainly have the infra-structure and the individuals capable of improving on the one silver medal achieved in Beijing. But talk is cheap and we have to utilize everything at our disposal in the next four years to turn the talk into medals and to get back our credibility as an Olympic sporting nation," said Sam.

"Money has been made available and we will continue to seek the investment of Corporate South Africa for what is the biggest sporting stage of them all, but to do this there has to be a blueprint of where the money is going and what the end goal is. I have said that it is possible to get 12 by 12, but again our talent identification has to be accurate and our focus has to be on those Olympic sports that can produce medals.

"We cannot continue to select individuals or teams with no realistic chance of a medal, as has happened in the past. Supporters want winners and that is what we have to produce in the next four years."

Sam said the R400 million Lottery grant was based on a R100 million a year payment, with the focus sports the primary beneficiaries.

"I want to stress the necessity for coordination in the field of finance and human resource. Let us use the resources optimally within the country. We want the best brains here and abroad to help us create the environment for our athletes to be prepared properly. The tertiary institutions will play a crucial role but they can't be islands. They must come into a programme that will be geared towards giving the athletes only the best.

"Our communication towards the athletes, public and media has to improve and the onus is on us to ensure enthusiasm over the next four years, just as we see in our cricket, rugby and soccer World Cup campaigns.

"This is about providing the best for our best and only the best will come into reckoning for Operation Excellence. Accountability, passion and discipline will be non-negotiable. There will be no free rides to the Olympics, period."

Sam, who has attended all of the Olympics since South Africa's 1992 introduction, reiterated the need to work with and not against the Department of Sport and Recreation.

"There were grey areas in terms of responsibility that I wanted erased and we've done this over the last few weeks. I have been encouraged by the Sports Minister's attitude. He and those in his department want winners and they want to assist in producing medal-winning South Africans.

"We all have to live the next four years if there is going to be success and we can't afford to be working against each other, even if it may be unintentional. Communication and transparency will be critical to achieve this kind of unity and one of SASCOC's biggest challengers, as the custodian of sport in this country, is to ensure the Federations embrace the road we will have to travel to get reward in London.

"My position is clear, in that there will be no handouts and everyone who gets selected will have earned the right to be there."

The initial focus sports identified are athletics, swimming, wrestling, judo, cycling, canoeing, shooting, weightlifting, boxing and rowing.

"Historically, our medals have come from here, but 19 medals in five Olympics is not impressive and that is what has to change. But it can't be achieved if there is no viable sports structure, platform to grow, athlete identification and financial resource," Sam concluded


  • Dutchman - 2009-02-18 12:17


  • Anonymous User - 2009-02-18 12:34

    Jipeeeee !! Now even more government oficials and there friends can go and watch the olympics with tax-payer's money. If even a third of this money actually goes to towards helping our athletes it would be a miracle.

  • Alan - 2009-02-18 12:37

    Fantastic news - let's just hope the usual old SA corruption doesnt creep in, whereby the money goes to sponsor holidays for officials and their families. See Roland's blog yesterday - we need the structure and support for athletes.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-02-18 12:51

    its a disgrace while charities have to beg for their share from lottery staff who are inefficient, unhelpful and thick as two short planks. With a monopoly on public fundraising, they are strangling the life out of charitable organisations who by law are not allowed to do anything to compete with the lottery ( win i khaya shut down by lotteries) 400 million .to one organisation .. what will it be spent on?

  • Anonymous User - 2009-02-18 13:23

    Times are hard - this money could rather go to security jobs, providing more money for pensioners, disabled, keeping the petrol price steady but it is wasted in sport - sorry sport is a luxuary and not a neccessity when the whole world is in financial trouble.

  • Jannas - 2009-02-18 13:39

    GREAT NEWS! Just a pity that some old age homes in Pretoria has to close down because of a lack of funding. How these LOTTO people decide on their priorities, I don't know.

  • JJD - 2009-02-18 14:01

    How much of this money will go to disabled sport? They got the medals in China. Should there not be some investment in them as well, or are they still not seen as equals yet? Funny that the people actually doing the job in the end does not even get mentioned in reports like these. Just checking!

  • Anonymous User - 2009-02-18 14:21

    Ye, Ye, Ye but does the money even filter down to the athletes. I wonder how long it will take them to put together a talent team for development for 2012. They will most prob only put the team toghether by 2020. That is how long things in this country take. They still have to put a policy in place, this will take about 2 years then they have to go look at talent, this will take another 3 years, and then they have to go look at facilities to put these talents in and this will take another 3 years and then they still have to develop the talent and walaa it is 2020.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-02-18 14:25

    ABSOLUTELY ridiculous .... This is exactly why I could never support the Lottery. There are millions of desperate, more deserving people in our country.

  • Nigel Bichard - 2009-02-18 14:30

    Come on Guys ! I appreciate that many other worthwhile charities are battling - their turn will come. This 4 mill is for the pride of the entire nation. I think Gideon Sam is on top of things - he has been working hard since he took office - lets give him a chance - Nigel

  • Anonymous User - 2009-02-18 14:44

    I hate the fact that people now moan that the money could be used for better things, such as security, jobs, etc. Millions is already been spent on these areas, the athletes deserve this money, especially after the debarcle of the last olympics. I share Dutchmans's thought though :-)

  • Anonymous User - 2009-02-18 14:54

    Agreed Nigel - we need to have some pride restored in our Nation after all the corruption in the ruling political party. Sport can do that (if that idjut of a Sports Minister stays out of it), so lets give Gideon Sam a chance. This is money from nowhere for sport, and hopefully the athletes (and not the administrators) will benefit. Couldnt agree more tha our disabled athletes who are the cream of our crop should also get some of it!

  • SAM - 2009-02-18 15:25

    Somebody is going to give ( taking ) himself a early christmas present!!!!

  • Anonymous User - 2009-02-18 15:35

    Pathetic - I agree wholeheartedly with Dutchman, Jipeee, Jannas, ABSOLUTELY rediculous, etc. We are definitely degenerating into a Banana Republic, and giving Government all the more opportunity to abdicate their responsibilities. More fiscus to spend on their gravy train!

  • Anonymous User - 2009-02-20 18:37

    I'm probably going to get a lot of flack for this but I would like to congratulate Gideon. This for me is definately a step in the right direction. We have so much talent in our school system that needs to be harnessed properly. The UK fell over themselves to sign some of our coaches/specialists before the last olympics why not put them in charge, at least they will be accountable, unlike the current crop I truly hope Gideon talks the talk AND walks the walk.

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