The Olympics game in Beijing are almost over and South Africa still only has one medal to show for their efforts. Most of us had expected Team South Africa to return with much more than one silver medal especially with our swimming team. Firstly, credit is due to Khotso Mokoena for winning a silver medal in the mens long jump event. You have spared the nations blushes. However what I have not liked hearing over the last couple of days is the comparison between South Africa and Zimbabwe in the Olympics. Zimbabweans are right to come out and say that they have won 4 medals at the Olympics. Yes, all four were won by Kirsty Coventry in the swimming pool but so what? It may only be one person but Team Zimbabwe has four medals and South Africa only has one. I have come across many South African’s this weeks who have said that Coventry has four medals and not Zimbabwe. I find this to be very wrong!
Moving on, looking at it now; why has Team South Africa failed to get more medals? I do not believe that we do not have the athletes to compete on the world stage. We have the athletes but could it just be a question that the athletes are not getting enough training or financial resources in order for them to compete on an international scale? I think a lot of blame has to be put towards the funding for the athletes. I recall watching the womens shooting event at the Olympics where a South African was competing. And after the event, her coach was complaining about a lack of resources in the sport in South Africa. I will be honest, I for one was not even aware South Africa was competing in the shooting event at the Olympics and you hardly hear about the sport in South Africa. More money has to be put into such sports in South Africa so by the time the Olympics come in 2012 in London we do not walk away with one silver medal and we bring home a plane load of medals.
Some have blamed the conditions of Beijing saying that they did not suite our athletes. It is a point and should not be written off. I know a lot of people have complained about the pollution in Beijing and it surely does play a part in an athletes performance, unless off course you are Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt.
Our athletes should hold their heads up high and be proud of their achievements. Just being part of the Olympics is an achievement in its own right, it is just a pity we did not win more medals.