Health and fitness brand Planet Fitness has given the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the South African Olympic and Paralympic teams a major boost with a R15-million investment for team fitness and high performance training.
The announcement was made today at SASCOC Olympic House by Barry Hendricks, SASCOC President and Mannee de Wet, co-founder and MD of Planet Fitness.
Over 260 Team South Africa athletes will be granted access to 47 Planet Fitness Clubs throughout the country. This access applies to athletes and members belonging to all affiliated National Sporting Federations that fall under SASCOC, who will now be able to train together, and individually, at world class facilities close to where they live.
The move will support Team SA to improve its medal winning ability – a four-year commitment that will carry our nation’s athletes not only through their Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic preparation, but will propel them through to both the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024.
The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games were postponed due to the pandemic last year, and with restricted movement and no training facilities open to them for months in 2020, Team SA could do with a hand of friendship and support in a move that is set to save costs on transporting athletes to a high performance centre, located in Gauteng.
While logistics, costs and Covid-19 are presenting challenges for SASCOC; consistent training and high quality facilities are required for all South African Olympic athletes, including the need to support disadvantaged and Paralympic athletes who are not in a position to travel easily during the pandemic.
‘This is expensive. We’ve been keeping South African’s fit for the past 25 years as a gym brand – we speak the same language when it comes to sport and fitness, and realised the challenge faced by our Olympic and Paralympic athletes – so we approached the Minister of Sport and Recreation, Nathi Mthethwa shortly after gyms were reopened after five months of hard lockdown in August last year,’ said Mannee de Wet, MD of Planet Fitness, the country’s largest homegrown South African gym company. ‘Our world is health and fitness and so our investment is one of health and fitness, and we are doing this in the spirit of unity in a very tough environment for South Africa’s finest athletes.’
After the pandemic forced the city to postpone the Games last year, Tokyo is determined to hold the Olympics and Paralympics in four months time. De Wet says: ‘In days like these, there is a need to unite South Africa through the success of Team SA, and we are right behind our athletes – proud to be called an Official Olympic Team Training Facility.’
Hendricks expressed his gratitude and excitement on the new sponsorship by a South African brand. ‘We are delighted to welcome on board the strength and national footprint of Planet Fitness and Fit SA’s commitment to Team SA, the Olympic, the Paralympic Movement, the Commonwealth Games Movement and sport federations in South Africa as a whole. Without partnerships like these, our task of producing sporting champions would be much harder.
‘This sponsorship partnership has created a wonderful opportunity for our country’s Olympians, Paralympians and Commonwealth athletes to train at world-class gyms, throughout the country at no cost. It further enshrines our commitment, with our partners, to provide valuable services for our athletes and our federations and assist in their growth and development.’
The power of sport for social good is well recognised in South Africa and when harnessed in the right way, with strong partnerships, it can have a hugely positive impact on development goals improving health, education and community cohesion. The health and fitness brand has actively advocated a healthier and fitter SA to minimise the scourge of co-morbidities, particularly during the pandemic.
‘We feel privileged to be able to encourage South Africans to maintain their fitness throughout this pandemic and to be able to assist SASCOC in supporting disadvantaged athletes that might not otherwise be in a position to perform to their full potential due to training and financial restraints,’ says De Wet.
‘We are inspired to be in a position to provide every South African Olympic, Paralympic and World Games athlete the opportunity of improving their performance ability in a world class facility with the ultimate goal of winning medals and uniting South Africa,’ says De Wet.