The President on Thursday met Team SA, kitted in their green and gold official tracksuits, at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House to bid the Olympians farewell and wish them good luck for the upcoming games.
“Go out there, enjoy yourselves and win. Win for South Africa and win for President Nelson Mandela who is turning 94 on the 18th of July, who laid the foundation for a winning nation in 1994,” said Zuma.
The Olympics are scheduled to take place in London from July 27 – August 12. The President also echoed and reiterated the target of 12 medals set for Team SA by the President of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), Gideon Sam.
“We want at least 12 medals, nothing less. Anything beyond 12 medals would be a bonus. If we win, it means Africa has won. We are a winning nation and I’m sure that you will win,” he said.
Team SA’s medal tally fell below any expectation when the team only brought home one medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The President encouraged Team SA to turn this around.
“Now is your turn to take this nation to even greater heights. We have been to Beijing, we are now going to London and we must do better there than in Beijing.”
Zuma also reminded the Olympians, who will depart to England on July 19, about the important values which they must always keep throughout the tournament.
“There are some important values for you to remember. These are discipline, passion, commitment and dedication. These will propel you to greater heights.
“More importantly, we want you to be clean… no drugs, no hectic partying and no negative behaviour of any sort. You must support one another and take care of each other on foreign soil. We will be fully behind you, waving our beautiful rainbow flag at every available moment,” he said.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, who introduced the Olympians to President Zuma, said it was important for the team to put in 100% effort so as to be formidable competition for their international counterparts.
The Sascoc President said the athletes and their team managers have accepted Zuma’s challenge of doing their best at the Olympics.
“Mr President, we’ve accepted your challenge and we will not let you and the country down,” he said.
In 1996 in Atlanta, Team SA scooped five medals, followed by another five in the 2000 Sydney Games. The medal tally improved marginally to six in 2004 in Athens.