R400m to help SA for London Olympics

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) yesterday launched the Road to London 2012 Olympic campaign and announced a R400 million National Lottery grant for their preparations for the quadrennial event.

The grant will be broken down into R100 million a year for four years.

The announcement was made at Olympic House in Johannesburg, where Sascoc president Gideon Sam also outlined their ambitious drive to prepare Team South Africa for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Sam said the campaign marked the beginning of their extensive preparatory programme for London where they hoped to erase embarrassing memories of the Beijing Games. He has targeted 12 medals in London.

"This is the beginning of our road to London in terms of preparations, because we don't want to leave it too late like we did for Beijing," he said refereeing to the previous Sascoc administration under Moss Mashishi, pictured.

"We will take a lesson from our Beijing failure, but it serves no purpose to dwell on the failure because it could not be changed. Our criteria to select athletes for London will be strict and we are not going to compromise on this.

"My position is very clear in that there will be no handouts and everyone who gets selected will have earned the right to be there," he said.

Sam also said they had to be united in what they do between now and the London Games, as "we can't afford a them and us situation", referring to the past Olympic campaigns characterised by divisions between administrators and athletes.

Sascoc is expected to meet all the federations next month where a way of nominating athletes will be discussed.

Members of the High Performance Centre and coaches commissions will also assist to draft a four-year programme for the Olympics.