The decision not to allow alpine skier Sive Speelman to compete in next month’s Winter Olympics may be justified by Sascoc’s own version of the Ministerial Handbook, but is deeply flawed in both sense and sensibility.
If the same jack-booted mentality had been applied in the unlikely snow-free nursery of the West Indies, the world would have been robbed of the soul-enrichening spectacle of the Jamaican bobsleigh team in the eighties – the real one, a quartet of army sergeants, not the ganja-happy gang depicted in the travesty of the Hollywood horror.
Speelman may well only be a distant blip on the rankings charts of his chosen sporting discipline, but his relative obscurity – and the near-nonexistent profile of this country in the realm of winter sports – could only benefit from his participation.
Speelman is only 18 and has most likely the potential to contest two or three further Olympics. For Sascoc to waive the option to send the youngster to Russia as a B standard athlete smacks of an enforced embargo on onward ambition.
Bafana Bafana graphically illustrated during their disastrous exit from the African Nations Championship the false economy of a blinkered failure to invest in developing the future.
For any of the Sascoc elite to have the brazen temerity to travel to Sochi and a Winter Games already deeply under fire for the rigidity of Russian rule criticised as being more iconoclastic than the Communist state it took over from would be simply disgraceful.
And to occupy the privileged seats the Olympic dignitaries invariably do, while a young athlete stays at home, would be the ultimate insult to Speelman’s years of dedication and sacrifice to fulfil a dream.