South Africa

SASCOC: You can't manufacture swimmers

2016-05-10 11:59
Penny Heyns (Gallo)

Cape Town - Since 1992, South Africa has had female swimmers at every Olympic Games - expect for Athens 2004. 

There has been mixed success - Penny Heyns' two gold medals at Atlanta 1996 the highlight. 

Backstroker Marianne Kriel also won bronze that year, but since then it has been slim pickings for South Africa's women.

Heyns won bronze in 2000, and that would be the last time a South African woman medalled at the Olympics. 

Unfortunately, those "records" are set to remain intact until at least 2020 with South Africa sending no female swimmers to this year's Rio Olympics. 

It was a concern that was raised by opposition parties at last week's Department of Sport and Recreation budget allocation for 2016/17.

Sport24 caught up with SASCOC CEO Tubby Reddy after sports minister Fikile Mbalula's speech, asking him what the reasons were for South Africa's struggles in developing female swimmers.  

"Swimming South Africa have their program of developing athletes and they've set standards and unfortunately no woman swimmer has come through in terms of the qualification that was agreed upon," Reddy explained.  

"It is sad that there are no female swimmers but you can't manufacture swimmers.

"It's the same as telling swimming South Africa that they have to have black swimmers ... you've got to develop them first before they become competitive."

Despite the lack of female representation in the pool, Reddy was confident that South Africa could still enjoy a successful Olympics.

"Between the ministry and ourselves we're targeting eight medals," he said.

"Realistically, we have athletes at that level right now. Barring injuries and what happens on the day, we could return with eight medals."

The Rio Olympic Games begin on August 5.

Read more on:    sascoc  |  rio olympics  |  tubby reddy  |  swimming
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