Hope on the horizon

2012-07-21 15:31

Do or die for Sascoc boss and team

South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam has conceded that the 12-medal target he set for the Olympic Games could have an impact on his future as the leader of the federation.

Sascoc will go to its elective conference less than three months after the Games, in November, where the new leadership will be elected
in Mpumalanga.

“I’m not sure if I can do it (serve another term) for another four years if we don’t perform in London.

“But if we do well, I’ll be back to push them for 2016 in Rio (Brazil),” Sam told City Press on the eve of Team SA’s departure this week.

He continued: “I have put so much into the London 2012 campaign. I’m not a full-time staff member but I put in 60% of my time on this campaign. If we get two medals, that will kill me. But if we break the post-apartheid record, which will be eight to nine medals, it will be something to smile about.

“Anything like three or four medals will be heartbreaking.”

Sam succeeded Moss Mashishi as Sascoc president four years ago on the back of a bleak quadrennial in which South Africa brought back a single medal – Khotso Mokoena’s silver in long jump – from the Beijing Olympics Games in 2008.

At the start of his term, Sam initiated Operation Excellence, a programme that offered financial and medical support to potential medal winners.

“After Beijing, the world told us of poor resources and poor structures in South African sport, and a lack of infrastructure in many parts of the country.

“We listened and acted. Through the national lotteries, millions (of rands) were made available to sport,” Sam said during his farewell speech
this week.

With the opening ceremony less than a week away, Sam said: “We’ve done everything we could. One big achievement is that many South Africans are behind the team now. When we started off with this 12 x 12 dream, it looked so distant. But many people told me they believe it is a possible target.”

Sam has the backing of Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula, who said even if the team return from London with only one medal, there was hope on the horizon for South African sport.


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