HEAD Coach of the South African national swimming team, Graham Hill, has encouraged upcoming athletes to believe in their abilities and work hard to achieve their goals of becoming top achievers in their sport codes.
Hill was speaking in Durban on Saturday, 14/05, during a function organized by the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation to honour KwaZulu-Natal athletes who have qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games later this year. Among the top athletes who attended the function were Paralympians Tyrone Pillay and Kevin Paul as well as Olympic swimmers Miles Brown, Calvyn Justus and Michelle Weber (who will be leaving for Portugal to attend Olympic trials).
The athletes are amongst the beneficiaries of the Department’s Elite Athlete Development Programme (EADP) which is implemented in partnership with Prime Human Performance Institute based at Moses Mabhida Stadium.
The function also included the induction of 122 athletes who will participate in the EADP programme for the 2016/17 financial year.
Hill said the road to becoming a world class athlete is not an easy one and requires dedication, focus and sacrifice.
“My message to you (young athletes) is that you need to dream big and believe in what you want to do. Chad le Clos showed this to the world when he beat Michael Phelps when no one expected it,” he said. “To parents and coaches you must know that it’s a tough world out there. Parents need to play a big role and be supportive to their children if they are to make it.”
Hill - a renowned coach who has produced many world class swimmers – will be leaving with the SA team on Thursday next week to prepare for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in August at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
Head of the Department of Sport and Recreation, Rohini Naidoo, congratulated the athletes for their achievements and pledged the Department’s continued support to the development and nurturing of athletes in all sport codes.
Meanwhile, the EADP programme welcomed 25 new young athletes who joined the group that already receives support.
Naidoo said bringing top athletes to share their experiences with the young stars is a way showing them that achieving in sport is possible.
She said the EADP Programme is the vehicle that is being utilized to deliver transformation of sport in the Province, especially in light of the second report on transformation by the Eminent Persons Group which led to National Minister Fikile Mbalula taking action.
The talented athletes from different federations have been categorised in two tiers based on their performance at provincial, national and international events. The Tier 1 category comprises of the Elite Athletes, whilst the Sub–Elite Athletes are in the Tier 2.
One of the new beneficiaries, Omeka Ntombela, gymnastics, said: “I feel extremely priviledged to be part of this programme because I’m certain that it will boost my performance to achieve my dream to be the best in gymnastics.”
The Department is investing R5million in the 2016/17 financial year to support the EADP Programme.