SA will give its all for Olympics glory

South Africa must win no fewer than 12 medals at the ­Olympics in 2012 – even if it means spending R73 million on ­foreign coaches.

SA’s Sports Confederation and ­Olympics Committee ­(Sascoc) will play a more active role in the 73 sports federations to ensure that the country wins more medals at the 2012 London ­Olympics.

This was said by Sascoc president ­Gideon Sam in a telephone interview on Friday.

Sam said it did not matter if all the 12 medals targeted at the ­Olympic Games were bronze.

Next month his organisation will call an indaba with all the federations to review South Africa’s performance at the ­Commonwealth Games which ended last week in New Delhi, India. Another issue to be ­discussed at the indaba would be that of foreign coaches.

“Australia, which topped the medal rankings in Delhi, have coaches from all over the world. Maybe it is high time we moved away from the premise that we have our own, and cast the net wide.

“The Lottery Board avails R1 million to each of the (73) federations that wants to employ a ­foreign coach, to be used for ­remuneration.”

South Africa won 33 medals at the Commonwealth Games – a ­decrease of 13% from the 2006 ­Melbourne haul.

“We must consider a number of things in viewing this performance,” he said.

“This was the first time that we sent quality before quantity.

“We have a situation where we took 245 athletes to Melbourne and came back with 38 medals. This time around we took 143 athletes and came back with 33 medals. We maintained the 12 gold medals and our position at No 5 on the medal standings.”

Sam said this was a result of Sascoc’s Operation Excellence programme. Sascoc identified a few top athletes and put them into programmes of excellence for which the organisation paid.

“Going forward, I think we need to sit down with all the federations and ask them for their needs and see how we can help,” he said.

He was quick to point out, though, that Sascoc was not out to meddle or micro-manage the ­different sports federations.

“However, as federations are in charge of development and high performance, we need to work closely with them so that they give us their top athletes and we help in whatever way to ensure success,” he said.

Sam acknowledged that the competition was going to be tougher at the Olympic Games, given that some sporting powerhouses such as the US, Russia and France, which were not represented at the Commonwealth Games, would be taking part.

“But I still feel we can do better by winning at least a medal in sports such as shooting, archery, canoeing, cycling and other codes, rather than relying heavily on swimming and athletics,” he said.

South Africa finished fifth at the Commonwealth Games with a haul of 33 medals behind Australia (177), India (101), England (142) and Canada (75). Kenya was sixth with 32.

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