Sascoc boss puts everything on the line for Olympics

Sascoc president Gideon Sam. (Gallo)

Sascoc president Gideon Sam. (Gallo)

The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president will resign if South Africa fails to achieve its goals at the upcoming London Olympic Games.

In a candid interview with the Mail & Guardian on Tuesday, Sam said he would fall on his own sword should Team South Africa fail to perform at the upcoming competition.

“If you are a leader you have to take the knock. It’s all well and good to duck and dive but in the final analysis: who is blamed when the country doesn’t go right? You blame the president. In that same way, I must be blamed if things don’t go right,” Sam said.

Sascoc made the 12 medal goal after the country’s poor showing at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

Team South Africa returned with a solitary medal, silver in long jump by Khotso Mokoena, in what was the poorest showing since Charles Catterall’s lone silver medal in the men’s featherweight boxing at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Sam said it would not be in the interests of sport in South Africa, for him to remain in his position if South Africa failed to achieve its goals in London.

“If it doesn’t work after all the effort we have put in, why would you want to carry on? People should think bigger than themselves and realise it’s not in anyone’s interests to go to the Olympics and fail – it does not sit well with me,” Sam said.

Sascoc is said to have injected millions of rand into the preparation for this year’s games in spite of claims that sponsorship dropped on the back of the team’s mediocre performance in Beijing.

This involved nurturing each individual prospective Olympian through their training, monitoring their progress and giving them a financial stipend in order to concentrate on competitions.

“We have monitored them since 2009 when we looked at how we could improve from Beijing. We are not saying the time we have given them is enough but we are going to make sure they are prepared,” Sam added.

At the beginning of June, Sascoc announced a 109-member provisional team for the global showpiece.

Swimmers formed the largest contingent of the individual sports named in the preliminary team, which could still grow as hopefuls have until the end of June to qualify.

Sam said Team South Africa would be going “all out” to ensure they came home with medals in tow.

“This time we are really going to throw the dice. Every single person who is there is a medal contender. We are going in there to do not only our best but excel because South Africa deserves nothing less,” he said.

The Olympic Games are scheduled to take place in London from July 27 to August 12.

 
Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer is the Mail & Guardian's jack of all trades news reporter that chases down stories ranging from politics and sports to big business and social justice. Armed with an iPad, SLR camera, camcorder and dictaphone, he aims to fight ignorance and pessimism through written words, photographs and videos. He believes South Africa could be the greatest country in the world if only her citizens would give her a chance to flourish instead of dwell on the negativity. When he's not begging his sub-editors for an extra twenty minutes after deadline, he's also known to dabble in the occasional poignant column that will leave you mulling around in the depths of your psyche. The quintessential workaholic, you can also catch him doing sports on the weekday breakfast show on SAfm and presenting the SAfm Sports Special over the weekend. Read more from Nickolaus Bauer

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