Long jump champ Samaai says financial worries hinder performance

Sascoc pledges to support athletes in Olympic year

14 January 2021 - 08:16
By Charles Baloyi
Ruswahl Samaai n the Men's Long Jump final during day two of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019.
Image: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF Ruswahl Samaai n the Men's Long Jump final during day two of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019.

African long jump champion Ruswahl Samaai is hoping that his plea for athletes to get financial support from the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee ( Sascoc) has not fallen on deaf ears. Boardroom squabbles took centre stage, leaving athletes in the cold last year. 

Samaai hopes the new Sascoc board, elected late last year, will prioritise athletes and support them financially in an Olympic year. The Olympic Games will take place in Tokyo in July.

“We are pleading with Sascoc to support us financially. I am not talking for myself only but on behalf of all athletes. It is difficult to focus on track and off the track things,” said Samaai.

“They expect you to perform and make the podium at the Olympics but you are worried about off the track things. We need financial support, and we will worry about the track.”

Sascoc president Barry Hendricks outlined their plans for the year and promised to meet the needs of the athletes. The newly elected Sascoc board held one meeting in December and will meet again on January 29 to discuss their plans for the Olympic Games.

“We had a strategic meeting in December and we have another one at the end of the month to get feedback on the things that we discussed. We will get the report on the high-performance commission. We will also get a financial audit and education and training reports. I agree with Samaai, the focus needs to be on athletes and federations. We will support them financially and help them to prepare for the Olympic Games. We are also tired of boardroom shenanigans and want to start serving the sport,” Hendricks told Sowetan yesterday.

The outspoken Hendricks said he would announce potential sponsors this week. “We spoke to a couple of sponsors to come on board and help us - the federation has no money - and we will make announcements next week," Hendricks said.

Sascoc is worried about the second wave of Covid-19, but urged athletes not to stop training.