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President’s Voice – Gideon Sam

First up, we welcome Minister Nxesi as our new leader in sport and we very much look forward to working with him.

He has indicated that he would like to have some wide consultations with  many stakeholders in the field and we should make use of this opportunity to meet the Minister as our various sporting codes, to share with him the successes and the challenges we have in sport.

We must certainly not miss the chance of sitting down with the Minister to talk about the dreams we have for South African sport.

This update comes to you from high up in the air on a flight en route to Accra in Ghana, and then on to Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire where the African Olympic Committees are meeting to review the performances of the continent in Rio last year, and also to workshop ways of improving in Tokyo 2020.

Ms Ezera Tshabangu will lead a discussion on what Africa needs to do to gain more medals at the Olympics. Dr Sam Ramsamy will moderate one of the sessions, and I will oversee a discussion on resourcing and thorough preparation of African athletes.

We had such a gathering before Rio and there was a marked improvement in the performances, though only a few countries contributed to Africa’s medal tally in Rio. Although money was available, the uptake was slow and in some instances the money came too late. By meeting so early, we want to avoid mistakes made in the last quadrennial.

The recent Championships of athletes with disabilities held in Port Elizabeth showed that we still have lots of untapped talent in the country.

There were great performances and records were being broken with ease. Once again we need to find a mechanism of nurturing and supporting these athletes. The High Performance Commission of SASCOC has taken note of these performances and will respond accordingly.

We look forward to building a formidable squad for the the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

We are seeing great performances across the board and this bodes well for our future campaigns as Team South, starting with the juniors in the Bahamas at the Commonwealth Youth Games. Our last outing in Samoa gave us a lot to smile about, as our youth performed very well.

The Bahamas should be no different. These games will be followed by next year’s Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. It all looks good, and once we have all our resources in place we should field good teams as Team South Africa.

There are also the World Games taking place in Poland this year.

Meanwhile, the national aquatic championships in Durban produced a fair number of qualifiers for the FINA World Championships in both the pool and diving categories. Coming up are the national track and field championships in Potchefstroom and this year will be one of the most anticipated championships in years.

The Blitzboks stumbled briefly at the Singapore Sevens by not making the final, but the mere fact that it makes news when they don’t reach the final shows how they have upped their game even more this year, and they are looking strong favourites to take the overall title.

Well done also to that Paralympian legend Ernst van Dyk for racing to wheelchair silver in the Boston Marathon, before heading off to London for another crack at the podium.


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