Sam still backs his ‘12 from 12’ Olympic belief

By Time of article published Jul 18, 2012

Share this article:

Kevin McCallum

Team South Africa’s 2012 Olympic campaign will in no way mirror the woes of 2008, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee president Gideon Sam predicted yesterday.

Speaking two days before the team left for London, Sam, who again reiterated his promise to fall on his sword should the team perform poorly in Britain, believed there would be no repeat of four years ago when Khotso Mokoena won South Africa’s solitary medal, a silver in the long jump. “As I sit here I’m convinced it can’t be a Beijing. For me, it cannot be a Beijing,” said Sam as he symbolically passed the team over to chef de mission Patience Shikwambana.

“It is up to them and their managers to get on to that world stage and do what they have trained for,” said Sam. “We’ve done our bit. I have to repeat this – Tubby (Reddy, Sascoc CEO) doesn’t like it. I asked him this morning. Look at this (said Sam, holding up a copy of Sascoc’s official magazine). With the kind of professionalism and work we have put out, it would it be unfair to continue if we only win two medals. I don’t think I could stand up and continue.”

Sam has never backed down from his mantra of “12 from 12”, and while there are few who believe that a dozen medals is attainable by this side, the president of Sascoc was ever optimistic yesterday.

“We’ve put in the hard work. It’s a process that started some years ago and It’s always good to open up a newspaper and see the coverage. The only things that are missing are billboards. We needed billboards week-after-week, month-after-month, to get them the necessary support. The biggest prize we can get is to see that the South African public will be behind us all the way to the end of these games,” said Sam, who said Sascoc had already begun preparing for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2016 Olympics.

The men’s and women’s hockey teams, the women’s football team and some of the track and field squad, were on site at the High Performance Centre by noon yesterday. Kit was handed out, bodies were massaged, medical checks were had and team building was constructed. Lucas Radebe gave the team a motivational talk after arriving a little later than he should have because of traffic. The team, said Shikwambana, is full of joy, happiness and confidence.

“The atmosphere is very positive. It’s our responsibility to make sure it stays like that,” said Shikwambana, who was the chef of the 2010 Commonwealth Games team in Delhi, where conditions were a little different to what they will be in London. “In 2010 we were in Delhi and it was difficult there. The attitude we had in 2010 will be the same attitude we’ll have in London. We’ll overcome any obstacles. In Delhi, our president said that when you get there and it’s dirty, then clean it yourselves.”

Today, last night’s team building notwithstanding, the South African team will be split in order to fulfil some final public appearances. Some will go to SuperSport Park to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday, while others will head to the South African Airways headquarters near OR Tambo International Airport. There they will unveil the plane that they are going to London in, which has been given a custom paint job for the Olympic team.

Share this article: