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Ockert De Villiers
16 Feb 2012 16:28
South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam says South Africa’s disappointing 2008 Beijing Olympic performance is to blame for the current lack of sponsorships ahead of this year’s London Games.
The South African team returned with one medal—the long jump silver by Khotso Mokoena—in the worst showing since Charles Catterall’s lone silver medal in the men’s featherweight boxing division in the 1936 Berlin Games.
“I cannot emphasise strongly enough how much we need to keep our resources from drying up now when we need it most,” said Sam on Thursday.
“Some of our major codes are battling financially and Swimming South Africa may need to retrench people at this crucial time.
“The hockey federation is also hobbling badly at a time when our national women’s and men’s teams are about to embark on their final qualifying bids.
“I know we rely largely on the Lotto for funding and I’m appealing to them to be more accommodating at this vital time in our sporting calendar.
Sam also said it was time for the athletes to erase past failings and impress for sponsorship attraction, with Sascoc having set a medal target of 12 for this year’s competition starting in July.
Low on funds
He remained confident on the London preparations and while Sascoc has the funds to send the team over, they still needed more with incentive structures yet to be finalised.
Sam said what is ideal would be to have funds available four years in advance to work out a budget properly.
“I know we rely largely on the Lotto for funding and I’m appealing to them to be more accommodating at this vital time in our sporting calendar,” Sam said.
“We just want that little bit, when an athlete says to you ‘I want to go to Europe’. You don’t want the athlete to be battling with the federation.
“You haven’t heard anything about incentives and yet in other countries they have already said ‘if you get something, here’s what it is’.
“We are too scared looking at what money we have and in the last moment we will be able to say, ‘guys, this is what we have in reserve but we will not be able to carry on next year.
“Maybe we should do something in terms of incentives.”
Sascoc’s high performance general manager, Ezera Tshabangu, outlined the reasoning behind team selection, and explained the difference between the Olympic body and the various international federations and International Olympic Committee (IOC) policies.
“We currently have 30 athletes who have already qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games,” said Tshabangu.
“They come from five different sporting codes, namely women’s football, rowing, athletics, canoeing and road cycling.
“The bulk come from football  while rowing have six [four men, two women], athletics four [three men and one woman in the marathon], one slot in the road cycling and a women’s K1 canoeist.”
Tshabangu will visit London this weekend on a final reconnaissance mission ahead of the Games and will also review budgets for the remaining qualification events and training camps ahead.
Already, the men’s wheelchair basketball team have booked their place at the Paralympics having won their African qualifying event in Morocco last year.
Sam went on to warn national federations not to complain about the qualification standards as they have agreed to the qualification policies.
“I appeal to our presidents and remind you that you signed an agreement.
It is not in good faith to say ‘I don’t know where we are’,” said Sam.
“We are very polite at Sascoc and treat you with kid gloves until we get fed up.”—Sapa
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