Mokoka, relay team get Olympic body’s support

2012-03-10 16:02

South Africa’s leading marathon man Stephen Mokoka and the 4x400m relay team have been added to the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee’s (Sascoc’s) operation excellence programme (Opex).

Sascoc chief executive Tubby Reddy said Mokoka “shot himself in the foot”, which was the reason the runner had not received full support from the Olympic governing body before.

According to Reddy, Mokoka was identified a year ago but the Mahikeng-born distance runner felt he could not be held accountable for any expenses relating to his preparations for the Olympics.

“He shot himself in the foot. We identified him in January 2011 but he couldn’t provide proof of expenditure.

“However we still felt that he needed help,” said Reddy.

Athletes were expected to provide quotations and receipts for living expenses to receive cash from Sascoc.

The all-conquering Transnet Athletics Club athlete clocked 2:10.29 in Shanghai, China in December last year to enhance his chances of making the Olympic team.

But Mokoka and the relay team, particularly Ofentse Mogawane, Willie de Beer and Shane Victor – who all helped the team to a 2011 World Championship silver medal – were conspicuous by their absence in the Opex athletics set-up.

Opex was established in 2008 to offer financial and medical support across the Olympics and Paralympics to medal hopefuls and any athlete who qualified for the Games.

Mokoka didn’t respond to calls or text messages left for him by City Press this week.

Reddy said of the relay team: “We have to believe that they won’t fall out of the rankings. They did well during the world champs and they have potential.”

The team’s inclusion was not late “as the athletics qualifying programme was still an ongoing one”.

The SA relay team is currently ranked third on the IAAF top list and only the best 16 nations gain automatic competition entry to the Games, which run from July 27 to August 12.

Mogawane said his budget was initially more than R170 000 but Sascoc had agreed to help him to the tune of R120 000.

That put him in almost in the same bracket as other track-and-field athletes have been in for the last three years.

“It is minus one problem now. I can at least focus on my training programme in the build-up to London.”

Athletics South Africa chief executive Frik Vermaak said: “Our door is open to help where we can but our athletes must bear in mind our current financial position.”

» Sascoc this week announced a 10-year deal with Procter & Gamble, a consumer products company that will be one of the sponsors of the South African Olympic team representing the country in London.

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