Editorials 23.8.2016 07:30 am

Let work on the next Games begin

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 14: Akani Simbine, the first South African to make a 100m final at the Olympic Games in 84 years, with Wayde van Niekerk who won the mens 400m final in a new world record of 43.03 seconds during the evening session on Day 9 Athletics of the 2016 Rio Olympics at Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Roger Sedres/Gallo Images)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 14: Akani Simbine, the first South African to make a 100m final at the Olympic Games in 84 years, with Wayde van Niekerk who won the mens 400m final in a new world record of 43.03 seconds during the evening session on Day 9 Athletics of the 2016 Rio Olympics at Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Roger Sedres/Gallo Images)

Although these Games carry far less prestige than an Olympiad, they provide a vital building block towards the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

The euphoria surrounding Team South Africa’s Olympic haul of 10 medals – the best tally since readmission at the 1992 Barcelona Games and good enough for a credible 30th spot on the final medal table – needs to be harnessed, carefully nurtured and, more importantly, built on.

In less than 18 months, this country faces the prospect of assembling a team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast. Although these Games carry far less prestige than an Olympiad, they provide a vital building block towards the 2020 Games in Tokyo and careful planning and judicious funding must take precedence over any other agendas.

Cynics would doubtless argue that applying the power of logic – and the division of increasingly meagre financial resources in a country struggling to provide basic infrastructure – is misplaced. But it must also be remembered that while the politicians bluster and the administrators strut in the shadows of the real sporting achievers, success on the sports fields of the world remains an important cog in the complex machinery of collective national pride.

The late Nelson Mandela put it best. “Sport,” he said, “has the power to unite nations.” Right now, we need that unity.

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