Thursday, August 2, 2012

Golden ones

I'm not a fan of watching sports such as swimming, athletics let alone gymnastics but with the Olympics I find myself engrossed with what ever is on. It could be the hype around the event seeing that it only comes around every four years and it is the largest sporting event held in the world so its with good reason that many take a keen interest in it. As anyone South African I am very patriotic towards my country and support any athlete taking part in any event, from the past Olympics we've always been strong in the swimming pool as that where most of our medals come from. SA has produced a host of top swimmers, from the likes of Penny Haynes, Ryk Neethling, Roland Schoeman and of recent Cameron van der Burgh and Chad Le Clos.

Chad and Cameron doing us proud this week by winning gold in the 200m butterfly and 100m breast stroke respectively. Chad who is only 20 pipped his hero and dubbed the greatest Olympian ever, Michael Phelps for the win on Tuesday evening, sending SA into mass hysteria with his efforts. We were all holding hopes that he gets a medal but nobody would've predicted that! I was even more chuffed since he was a Durban boy, representing on the biggest stage. My twitter time line exploded with at least 50 consecutive tweets just congratulating him or cheering for him. His follower count on twitter before the race was around the 6000 mark and hit 40,000 about 6 hours after winning.

Now I'm not here to talk about twitter stats, the reason for this post is that since the awesome foursome, that is Ryk, Darian, Roland and Lyndon pulled off an unbelievable victory against all odds in Athens 2004 there has been hardly any or limited funding going into swimming. Telkom chipped in after the swimmers threatened swimming for the USA since there was such a lack of interest shown towards swimming SA. The question I'd like to ask, is why is it so? Its clear to everyone we have the talent, so why are major investors so afraid to invest into it? Not all swimmers are fortunate to go abroad to the USA to get high skilled coaching like Chad Le Clos, think about all that talent that's forced to train in SA. Not to say that there isn't proper trainers here, Ryk has done a fantastic job with Cameron van der Burgh but he is just one guy.

Perhaps if Swimming SA gets the proper funding and sponsorships we could produce more Olympic contending swimmers, we know for a fact we can. The world has seen and there is nothing more to prove. To me it all seems silly, you get the big corporates throwing money at sports or teams that have enough, why not give some to sport that needs it. We've seen what joy winning those 2 gold medals brought to our country, imagine if we could have gotten more? With the likes of Gideon Louw and Suzaan Van Biljon just missing out in the finals, we could have probably elevated their place into the top 3 but we will never know.

I know its a lot to ask for but think of the possibilities if it does happen. South Africa is still a young country and we're already showing the world what we're made of. We have some of the best sporting athletes in the world, just a few weeks ago Hashim Amla scored over 300 runs in England, Ernie Els showed the world that he isn't done, the Sharks are in New Zealand preparing for their 4th Super Rugby final and just today our light weight rowers won their final out of no where elevating SA to 8th in the standings of the Olympics games and there is still more to come with the track and field events. For a small country at the bottom of one of the largest continents on this earth, we're sure are doing a damn good job to make sure we are noticed! Lets us do better because I believe we can!

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