By Mark Etheridge
SASCOC President Gideon Sam paid Team South Africa a visit at the Athletes’ Village on Friday and urged them to apply themselves to the task of topping the All Africa Games medals table.
Sam, a former president of Swimming South Africa, paid particular attention to the swimmers. “Guys, it’s up to you guys to get that ball rolling. We know Algeria are going to want to repeat their feats of the last Games in 2007 but its up to us to get going immediately.
“Mandy [Loots] you and I have been through a lot down the years in swiming so I’m looking at you to set the tone,” he smiled.
For her turn Loots struck a confident pose ahead of the first swimming events on Monday.
“I’m good to go,” said the veteran of three Olympic Games. “It’s an excellent pool with great facilities ÔÇô I feel good in the water so there shouldn’t be any problems.”
Loots, 33, competed at the 1996, 2000 and 2008 Olympics “I got sick in the trials before the Athens Games in 2004.”
She’s also done her time as far as All Africa Games are concerned. “My first AAG was in Zim back in 1995 and then Johannesburg (1999) and Algeria in 2007, so these will be my fourth.”
A butterfly specialist over 100 and 200m, she’s certainly shown great form in the build-up to these games, taking six golds and a silver medal at the recent SA short-course championships in Johannesburg.
So what’s left to do in in the Edenvale, Johannesburg swimmer’s career? “I think next year’s Olympics in London will be my last shot and then I want to plough back into the sport. Most of the swimmers know me by now so I wouldn’t mind getting involved in the team management structures in future.”