Media Statement by Minister Fikile Mbalula on Team South Africa’s achievements in the 2012 London Olympic Games and the support given to the team
3 Aug 2012Since South Africa’s invitation from the International Olympic Committee to rejoin the family of sporting nations in 1991, we have always strived to achieve against the odds. We committed to, and participated as equal partners on the world sport and recreation stage. And despite venturing into the unknown following our years of isolation, we managed two medals in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
In 1996 and 2000, we brought back five medals from Atlanta and Sydney, respectively. And at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, we won six medals. Unfortunately, this is where our honeymoon ended.
We saw our Team coming back from the 2008 Beijing Olympics with only one medal and shattered hopes for South Africa. We had to learn from this experience, and learn, we did.
In trying to find solutions to our Beijing experience, we also agreed with Sascoc to tighten the qualification standard. In this way, we knew that only athletes that have a potential for success would be in the Team to London. Our athletes toiled and showed their patriotism to their country and today we are witnessing the fruits of their toil. As a country, we can proudly declare that the team announced by Sascoc comprising 125 athletes together with 46 officials, 12 medical staff, and 8 general team management, supporting them, is doing us proud in London.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Olympic Games are a major sporting event that offers a country such as ours, not only an opportunity for its athletes to showcase their skills. They also offer us an opportunity to market all what make us a beautiful South Africa and to invite the world to partner us in speeding socio-economic growth and development for our people.
As we market ourselves, we do so as a global player that has footprints in its home continent and the world in general.
As a member of Zone VI of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa, our country is an active participant in the development of sport in the Southern Africa region of our continent and Africa at large.
Our country is a signatory to the Copenhagen Declaration on anti-doping in sport and has ratified the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport.
South Africa has represented Africa at both the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Executive Committee and Foundation Board. In fact, South Africa’s Minister of Sport and Recreation, is serving as a member of the WADA Executive Committee in 2012. It is therefore not surprising that in November 2013, we will through the City of Johannesburg, be hosting the World Anti-Doping Conference of WADA.
It is on this basis that the Minister of Sport and Recreation South Africa, led a delegation to the 2012 London Olympics.
During the Presidential Send Off and the Team SA Dinner, our swimmers, who have already produced two gold medals and setting a new World Record, were training out of the country in Monte Carlo – Monaco. A Ministerial delegation visited the team camp to convey the country’s message to pep them up towards conquering the world. We are grateful to the Monaco Principality led by Prince Albert of Monaco and his wife, Princess Charlene, who is our former Olympian, for injecting a dose of success to our country’s ambassadors.
From Monaco we went to London, where apart from engaging Olympics-related activities, we had to attend to other matters of world sport. Among other engagements, we:
- Attended an informal meeting of WADA, where among other issues, the anti-doping regulations for the Olympics and South Africa’s hosting of the 2013 World Anti-doping Conference were discussed.
- We also attended the Commonwealth Sport Ministers’ meeting, where issues under discussion centred on development of sport. It was in this meeting that South Africa was praised for the way we handled the issue of regulation and balance between the state and the federations. Again, it was in this meeting where it was agreed that Commonwealth countries must move to ensure that during international sporting events, the Visa requirements should be relaxed. And also engage IOC, FIFA and other continental structures on the need to practice good governance and accountability.
- We officiated at the Flag Raising Ceremony at the Olympic Village. As expected from any responsible government, we inspected the facilities and food, and also spoke to athletes, who declared that they are comfortable with the setup there. We were also satisfied with what we saw and witnessed.
- We attended and officiated the opening of our Ekhaya Hospitality Centre, which is a ‘home away from home’ for Team SA and other South Africans, who find themselves in London at this exciting time within the sport and recreation sector. The Director-General, Mr Alec Moemi, will later elaborate on matters relating to Ekhaya.
- In the absence of our President and Deputy President during the Olympics opening ceremony, the Minister of Sport & Recreation had to play a prominent role at the ceremony, and he duly represented South Africa.
- We also attended the SCSA Zone VI meeting of Ministers of Sport to discuss issues of sport development in the Southern Africa region. Central to this meeting was the alignment of the AU resolutions to constitute a new sport structure for the continent.
- And of course, we witnessed laying of the Beijing ghost to rest, when Cameron van den Burgh won a Gold medal in swimming – the first for South Africa in five years.
When Chad le Clos followed suit, we knew that what Sascoc’s President, Mr Gideon Sam committed to achieving in London following the huge support they received from government and many other generous stakeholders, was on track.
If Le Clos’s win did not make us believe, then the Gold won by our Rowing team must have done the trick. We acknowledge that it is still early to celebrate. But when you have been starved of success for so long, you cannot help it but celebrate every little achievement made. And when you win this big, you can’t remain quiet.
Our Team is still in London and while others may fall and learn from their experience, others will stand tall like Cameron, Chad, and the Rowing Team did. We hope for more medals, and we wish for more.
I would love to take this opportunity to thank the media for their continued support to the team. We are happy that you have kept the South African public informed about the happenings at the Olympic venues in London. We are, really and truly, grateful to the service you provide to the society.
As I hand over to the DG to talk about the Ekhaya Hospitality Centre, we wish to urge all South Africans to still wear their sport t-shirts every Friday in support of our Team in London.
Issued by: Sport and Recreation South Africa
3 Aug 2012
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