By Gareth Duncan in Lusaka, Zambia
SASCOC president Gideon Sam lauded Team South Africa’s fantastic start to their Zone VI Games campaign.
Sam was present during the opening stages at the Zone VI Games in Lusaka and attended all the matches and meetings. He also took time out to speak to the athletes before and after their games, to encourage them and pass on advice at a vital stage of their development.
‘Make the most of this opportunity. Prove to us that your are committed and always give your best. All hard work will be noted,’ was the main message the Under-20 youngsters received.
The national Olympic committee’s president was very impressed by the swimming and judo teams’ success as they contributed 74 medals to South Africa’s overall tally.
The swimmers won 57 out of a possible 58 medals in the pool (with a maximum of 32 gold), while judo claimed 17 podium finishes (including nine gold).
This saw South Africa hold a major lead on the tournament’s medal table.
‘What a wonderful start to the Zone VI Games,’ Sam told RoadtoRio.co.za. ‘Our swimmers have done very well on the international stage for many years, and these results prove that there is more talent coming through the ranks.
‘The judo athletes also did very well. I was at the Junior World Championship in Cape Town last year, and I wasn’t happy with South Africa’s performances. But what I saw at the Zone VI Games was a huge improvement.
‘The rest of the squad will need to carry on the momentum the swimmers and judo athletes have set.’
Sam also complimented Zambia for the structures they have established with the opportunity of hosting the fifth installment of the Zone VI Games.
Lusaka have gained an Olympic-size pool, new tennis and netball courts and a Olympic Youth Development Centre, which is set to develop future national sport stars.
‘I was invited to a presentation and was very impressed with what I saw. The Olympic Youth Development Centre caters for 17 sports and there’s a coach looking over his or her respective code. There’ll come a day where South Africa will have to do very well to beat Zambia in all sports.’