Kgothatso Montjane in action in the Ladies competition. Photo: Etienne Rothbart

Grandstanding. The favourite pastime of administrators, politicians and everyone with a hidden agenda in South African sport.

I have developed the terrible but ultimately the best self-preservation habit of arriving at least an hour late for press conferences involving any of the personalities above.

To some, it may seem very unprofessional but I am saving money on dental costs due to constant gritting of teeth at these functions.

This week I made the mistake of arriving five minutes late  which turned out to be half-an-hour early  for a sponsorship announcement.

The function highlighted one of those feel-good stories of South African sport in which a struggling athlete finally gets her break in life, albeit a bit late in her career.

It was announced on Wednesday that wheelchair tennis star Kgothatso Montjane had attracted nearly a dozen sponsorships which amounted to R1.5 million in cash and other incentives.

But the event could not start on time as we had to wait for the arrival of the Limpopo MEC for Sport. Because, you know, she is important and stuff.

Some other politicians and government people were also mentioned during the proceedings which dragged on for what felt like a lifetime before we got to the point of the event.

Instead of honouring Montjane for what she has achieved with negligible support throughout her career, we experience grandstanding of the highest order.

Montjane is from Limpopo and therefore received support from that province or something like that. It is still not clear what these politicians had done for Montjane when she really needed them. The funny thing is that she reached a career-high fifth place ranking in the world way back in 2013.

There was no outpouring of support five years ago and there probably would not have been any after her Wimbledon heroics last month had it not been for the efforts of marketing agency Optimize.

For the record, this is not part of any shameless plug for the marketers in question: it is the well-documented truth.

I always find it funny that you have people coming out of the woodwork when they see they can share a bit of the spotlight.

It is perhaps out of guilt that they have the audacity to step onto a public platform and declare that they always have, and always will support so and so.

Montjane is extremely marketable and her track record speaks for itself which makes her anything but a charity case.

The sponsors should receive a return on investment and their contribution may catapult Montjane to the top of the world rankings.

But it is disgusting to see organisations brag about how they are suddenly supporting someone and want to claim the person's success as their own when they have contributed sweet bugger all up to this point.

This is not only true in Montjane’s case but has been evident in many of our individual sports.

Kudos to those that have made a difference in the lives of our struggling athletes’ lives whether it is for selfish or altruistic reasons.


Saturday Star

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