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Where We At and Where We Going

by on October 2, 2012

When I went back in to managing athletes on a full time basis, I knew it was as huge risk and would not be easy to get the best athletes right away, and it would also take time for me to develop my own top class runners. But one has to balance this out, and get good athletes immediately in order to earn an income but at the same time have a vision and a long term strategy. Of which is in place and am trying to execute this. As with any long term plan there has to be some adjustments along the way and fine tuning to get it right, but as long as the main frame work doesn’t change then things should work out.

I decided in 2011 that I would have to find some strong marathon athletes from Africa in order to go and win some of the big races. What can I say, I got many athlete CVs, who were good, make no mistake, but they were just not good enough to be accepted at the big races. But we went with it, as there was no option but to do the best we could with what we had.  2011 was not a great year, Yes Stephen won Comrades and Claude was 3rd, so being the big race in SA, that was good, but there just wasn’t enough top quality to get into the big marathon races.

I had to take a back step and do a little restructure and tweak the game plan for 2012. One cannot expect to go and dominate races on the World Stage when you can’t dominate the races in your own country.  But at the time there weren’t really enough good paying races in SA where one could make a living.

2012 started and I had a look at the local race schedules and it was decided that we would obviously target Two Oceans, Comrades and Soweto marathons as the main races in SA. Great News when Gauteng and Mandela Marathons were announced, so I put this one in the schedule. So the race schedule was to be

February – Hong Kong

April – Two Oceans / ZK Marathon China (by the way my guys got 1st and 4th here)

June – Comrades

July – Foskor Phalaborwa

August – Foskor Richards Bay & Mandela Marathon

September – Gauteng Marathon, Township to Township and Mossel bay

October – have a break

November – Soweto Marathon

December – Angola 10km

 

Yes there were some international races I wanted the guys to go to, but these would be as and when they came up. One also needs to have the quality athletes to send to the race who can potentially win. I also needed to take into account the cost factor to these races as one needs to pay for flights, race entries, accommodation, visas, internal travel, food.  Without having a financial sponsor on board it was going to be tough. The other factor is that I was not that keen on doing deals with any of the professional clubs here in SA, as some have been indifferent in the past, and when I have brought athletes in and they have run in their colours and done well for the club. The club then advised me they did not want the athlete long term, and the simply contacted the athlete directly and offered the athlete contracts, so made me look like an idiot as I had told the athlete NO CONTRACT, then he gets a direct offer. But anyway, so be it. That’s why I decided that my guys would run in plain colours, and will run in SA under temporary licenses.

 

The idea was to go to these races and win as many of them as possible and shut out the pro clubs. Of which I think we have done a good job thus far. (read previous post on results).

I negotiated a great deal with a travel agent in Kenya who has semi sponsored the tickets for the flights. We had some support for Two Oceans from Husqvarna SA, but for the most part it has been a hard slog to get the results we have. But one has to make a sacrifice if one wants to succeed.

 

Yes in SA I have been criticized by individuals for not developing local talent. Make no mistake I would love to be in a position to do this and it is on the cards, but one needs the finances to do this. In order to get the finances and sponsors on board one needs to prove their credentials to the market that one can produce results. What I have done and am doing is no different to any of the professional clubs. The difference is that the pro clubs have the funding, (and I stand to be corrected here),but I really don’t see them putting much into development, they target the Elite runners only.

My vision is to have a set up in SA, where I would be in a position to fund 10 Elite athletes and 10 development athletes. At the same time set up a training camp in Kenya where my Kenyan athletes will be looked after and this will allow for easy access for the SA athletes to go to a place where they will have the best training opportunities between SA and Kenya.

I have already identified the athletes in Kenya and SA, and have already identified the housing, trainers, and support staff. If an athlete is given the professional support from all aspects he / she will be able to perform, as they wont have the stresses of where will the get their next meal etc.  Their racing schedules are managed so they don’t over race, which will allow quality training in between races which will then produce the best results.

I have no doubt that with the correct sponsor in place we will be able to achieve this, and I have to be honest, we are not talking the type of sponsorship the bigger sports codes demand, such as cricket, football and Rugby. But merely a small percentage of these sports codes.

There is an abundance of talent in SA but to be honest the funding out there from the corporate sector for development is really not going to the right places. A development programme is not something where you invite 10 schools to an athletics meeting, and then say, wow we had 200 kids at the meeting, we did a great job. Development is a long term every day training, teaching and building of an individual. It takes time and dedication which most just are not interested in. There is no quick fix, it takes time.  One needs to have the funding to take an athlete to a big race in order that he / she gain experience at that level, much the same as SA Rugby will take a couple of youngsters on tour to gain experience. Athletes too need this, but no one out there wants to do this, as there is as cost factor.

 

As we near the end of 2012, all I can say is that my guys and girls have had a good run of results, and I hope we can start 2013 with the second phase and continue the good results as well as secure a committed sponsor in order that we can develop SA athletes into world class beaters. We have the talent; just need the resources channeled in the right direction to be able to give that talent an opportunity to come out.

Big strides have been made in 2012 and I have no doubt that my athletes will will soon be a force to be reckoned with.

 

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2 Comments
  1. plustenner permalink

    Good luck! With those runners things can only be good for you in the coming year xx

  2. Kiplangat kirui permalink

    Champions don’t become champions when they win the event,but in the hours,weeks,months and years they spent preparing for it.the victorious performance itself is marely the demonstration of their championship chareter.

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