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Mbalula must now put our money where his mouth is

The Times Editorial | 2012-08-13 00:50:05.0

The Times Editorial: And so the London Olympics is over and South Africa's adventure ended on Saturday night with a silver medal from flag-bearer Caster Semenya.

The newspapers and social media have dissected Semenya's race and most of the armchair critics firmly believe that the young runner let us down with a lethargic run.

But, though most South African hearts raced with excitement before the race started, it would be useful to remember the harsh pressure that Semenya had to bear after her triumphant 800m run at the 2009 World Championships, in Berlin, when questions first arose about her gender.

How many of us would not have wilted in the face of such media intrusion and the disgraceful way in which the issue was dealt with by the local and international athletics organisations?

Semenya seems to have survived the relentless scrutiny and has brought home a silver medal. It is more than we could have hoped for in the months after her 2009 gold.

But, as we laud Semenya and our other fine athletes who won medals, the government and sporting bodies should start looking at the next Games, and what will be required to ensure adequate financial support for our athletes.

Britain's medals haul is proof of heavy investment by its government, which has already announced that its financial support will continue to the Rio 2016 Games.

Obviously, South Africa can never afford the same financial support as countries such as the US and Britain, but we should be able to expect a more concerted effort from our government.

Welcoming home our medallist swimmers last week, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said: "Swimming has never let us down at global competitions; they always come back with medals despite very little financial support.

"South Africa is an ambitious, courageous sporting nation. With more financial support to medal-winning codes like swimming we will win more medals."

The time has come for Mbalula to cough up.

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