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SA and Russia join hands in exchange initiative

They say that the friends you make at an Olympic Games become friends for life. That could well be the case when it comes to South Africa, and SASCOC as an Olympic organisation, after a fruitful meeting between SASCOC hierarchy and their Russian counterparts. 

The meeting, in which SASCOC was represented by its president Barry Hendricks and acting CEO Ravi Govender, was initiated by South Africa and held at the Kokugikan arena, where the boxing competition has been taking place. However, in this case all the fighting took place in the ring and outside it there was an air of camaraderie and a joining of the Olympic spirit and all that it stands for.

Hendricks and Govender met with Russian Olympic Committee president Stanislav Pozdnyakov, who thanked the South Africans for taking the initiative.

Hendricks stretched out the hand of friendship by suggesting that the two countries go forward from Tokyo working closely together along various pathways. These would include training coaches, having exchange programmes in the field of sports management, as well as the development of youth sports.

“The possibility of such a meeting is very important for the Russian Olympic Committee, because assistance and Olympic solidarity are one of our priorities in international sports activities,” Pozdnyakov said. 

As tangible areas of co-operation are concerned, Pozdnyakov stressed that the Russian women’s rugby sevens team, which competed in Tokyo, could be interested in joint training camps with the South African team, which has long been a force at international level. SASCOC’s representatives, meanwhile, expressed interest in cooperation in the field of winter sports, especially ice hockey.

Pozdnyakov has fond memories of South Africa. “I have a personal story,” he said. “In 1997, I participated in the World Fencing Championships in Cape Town. There I managed to win the individual championship in sabre fencing. It was not only the only gold medal for our country at that tournament, but also my first individual victory at the world championships. So, I have very fond memories of Cape Town.”

Hendricks and Govender invited Pozdnyakov and the delegation of the ROC to visit South Africa when the joint programmes are launched to see first-hand how effectively they are working.