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The President’s Voice – Gideon Sam

We are now focusing our attention on the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games and at the same time also keeping a close eye on the new threat of the Zika virus in Brazil.
For now we are going ahead with our preparations and rest assured will be taking guidance from our national health authorities as well as from the Olympic Committee medical commission.
Time is not our side and  although we started the process of preparing our athletes years ago one can never say it is enough.
There will be anxious moments for our athletes still trying to qualify in the months ahead. The danger is always there that in their pursuit of qualifying times, some athletes may end up having peaked too soon and then battle to perform at their maximum during the Games.
But this is something our coaches will be aware of and willguide their athletes properly.
The other important aspect is to let the South African public know who to be on the lookout for during the Games. A comprehensive publicity campaign will be launched to bring Team SA closer to the people.
Some of the local camps will be held around the country, giving media and public an opportunity to meet the athletes. Details of this programme will soon be unveiled by SASCOC.
Our teams and athletes continue to show a mixed bag of results, but we do not spend sleepless nights over this because we know how sportspeople pace themselves. Critical for us is to know what the athlete is up to and closer monitoring and evaluation are necessary now.
From where I sit great performances should be highlighted at all times to encourage our athletes.
Just some of the excellent achievements I’ve noted recently are our wheelchair tennis players, Kgothatso Montjane, who won two tournaments in Australia and Lucas Sithole who won a title at the Australian Open.
Staying with para-sport and our Commonwealth Games weightlifter Chantelle Stierman won a bronze at the IPC World Cup in Rio which will do wonders for her confidence.
Back to tennis, and also at the Australian Open, Raven Klaasen won through to the quarters in the doubles competition.
Our track and field athletes look to be upping their game in this Olympic year and already we’ve seen personal bests over the 60-metre distance by Carina Horn and Henricho Bruintjies in Germany.
And Down Under, Lebogang Shange continues to impress on the walking scene with a 3000m track best.
Our 2012 Olympic sailing combo of Asenathi Jim and Roger Hudson have come on in leaps and bounds since London and started their year off with a fine top 10 finish at the Miami World Cup.
Finally, as I compile this, our only competitor, Elizabeth Olivier, is preparing for the opening ceremony of the Winter Youth Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. The country is right behind her and here’s hoping she increases interest in the winter sports.