Just over a week ago the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) announced that only two swimmers were on the list of 58 athletes that would be receiving funding from Operation Excellence which is the main funding programme for prospective Olympic and Paralympic medalists.
Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh were the only two to make the cut.
At the announcement that came on November 18th Gideon Sam the President of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee made it clear that the funding was being targeted for athletes that will perform at the Olympic games, “We’ve said it many times that we cannot have a team of 300 and come back with four medals,” Sam said.
“It is fine to say ‘I am an Olympian’ but you must earn that title. Go there and really perform with a top three or top five then you can say ‘I am an Olympian’.”
The funding decision did not sit well with Swimming South Africa’s High Performance Manager Dearn Price, “We are going there to deliver, we are not getting any support from anyone, so we are going for it,” Price told SuperSport.
“If Sascoc only wants to select two swimmers – this country has always produced more than two swimmers – we don’t support that decision and we will show them.”
At last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow the South African swimmers came away with three gold, three silver and six bronze winning 12 of the country’s 40 total medals.
“The world championship is at a higher level than the Commonwealth Games but we are doing the job, we always have done, and we always will,” Price said.
“We are going into the championships with confidence, and the kids are not just happy to have a place in the team, they want to do well.
Heading into the World Championships le Clos, Myles Brown and Roland Schoeman have posted times that rank in the top three in the world while Sebastien Rousseau currently ranks tenth in the men’s 400 IM. van der Burgh ranks just outside the top 10 in both the 50 and 100 breaststroke.
“It is about giving people opportunities, if you don’t then you will fall short,” he said.
“That is where we fall short in this country thinking that people can step out of nowhere and become Olympic champions.”