Top athletes ‘will get funding’

2013-04-07 10:00

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Sascoc pledges financial support for individuals eligible for 2016 Olympics participation.

All the London Olympics medallists and finalists are guaranteed support from the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc).

This should come as a relief to top performing swimmers after it was reported that Swimming South Africa (SSA) did not have funds to send swimmers to the Fina world championships, which begins in July in Barcelona, Spain.

Sascoc chief executive Tubby Reddy said the Operation Excellence (Opex) was open to other athletes but stricter conditions would apply.

Reddy said funding would be available for the country’s top athletes for the world championships. Opex is a programme that offers medical and scientific support to athletes (see box).

He said eligibility for 2016 Olympic qualification and participation was a prerequisite.

The same criterion will apply to the Paralympians who also got medals and reached the final at the event last year.

Codes with a reputation of bringing back medals such as athletics and swimming are facing serious financial challenges due to a lack of sponsorship, and the two sports are on the verge of holding their national championships.

Track and field will hold their championships next weekend while the swimming event will run from April 10 to April 15.

Both competitions serve as qualifying events for the world championships later this year.

“We asked for applications from the federations and we are busy with the adjudication process in which 14 have applied so far,” said Reddy.

Sascoc shelled out R70?million on athletes who were on the Opex programme across the Olympic and Paralympic codes in the previous cycle between 2009 and last year.

“The target is a bit higher this time – we have to quantify fundraising.”

The current qualifying procedure for the Opex programme follows the same pattern as the previous quadrennial.

The criterion consists of three tiers with the top one offering athletes comprehensive support.

The second tier covers junior and youth athletes, while the third provides for athletes who have consistently proved their potential to return medals at major international events, according to the criteria.

During their presentation to Parliament’s portfolio committee on sport in February, SSA noted in their report that “most international and local events are funded by parents with limited support from SSA resources in some instances”.

SSA highlighted that funding was a major challenge going forward as there were “no committed funding from either the public or private sector post March 2013”.

They said funding that came in last year focused largely on preparation for the London Olympics, where swimming brought back three medals – two gold and a silver – through the efforts of Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh.

Other water-related sports that contributed to the London 2012 medal tally was rowing, with a gold from the men’s lightweight coxless four and a bronze from canoeing.

Reddy said support for the athletes from Opex would be based on submissions from the federations. Sascoc would still prioritise the codes based on their medal history in international events.

What Opex offers

»?Living expenses

»?Medical aid

»?Transport for training sessions

»?Access to training facilities

»?International camps and competition

»?Local camps and competition

»?Coaching fees

»?Scientific- and medical-support services

»?Technological services

»?Sport-specific equipment

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