Managing Team SA’s track & field stars
08 October 2016
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This is Old Mutual Live, it’s good to have you with us and thank you so much for downloading and listening to this podcast. My name is Brad Brown, it’s great to be able to be back with you and as we broadcast, the Rio Olympic Games well under way.
But we caught up with a man who is there in Rio as you listen to this, as we speak now he’s still on South Africa soil, he’s the Chair for Track and Field at Athletics South Africa and it is Mr Pieter Lourens. Pieter welcome, thanks for joining us here today.
Pieter Lourens: Thank you Brad.
BB: Pieter, I love the Olympic Games, we’ve been chatting about it in the weeks and months building up to now. It’s a special sporting event for you, what makes the Olympics special?
PL: Brad, this is the competition of competitions in the world where athletes can showcase their talent. It’s obviously a very proud situation for each and every person/athlete, whether it’s a manager or coach to be there.
BB: Pieter, as far as Team South Africa goes, we’ve got some real class athletes at the Rio 2016 Games, I know SASCOC has set medal targets. For you personally, are you going along with those targets or are you a bit more optimistic than SASCOC is?
PL: I’ve learnt from the World Championships in Beijing last year and anything can happen. But I do agree that athletics will do South Africa proud with maybe one or two outstanding performances and trust that the other athletes will also contribute towards an excellent medal tally.
BB: We’ve seen it so often, there’s almost little pockets of excellence that keep popping up in various sporting codes. It’s not just track and field, I think of rowing for example, what Roger Barrow is doing with SA rowing. But within track and field, I look particularly at our sprinters and something special has happened there over the last few years. What do you attribute that to?
For a love of Athletics
PL: I think the Athletics South Africa is on a good track, the coaches and the athletes are more positive than in the past. I think this is the main reason why our athletes have blossomed.
BB: Pieter, as far as your history in the sport of athletics and your involvement at ASA, you’ve been around the sport a while. Tell us about, for those who don’t know who you are and your background, where did your love for athletics and track and field in particular come from?
PL: I’ve been in athletics from primary school and I have represented my region and also as a senior athlete. I participated under the banner of the South African Amateur abroad, which was an affiliate of SASCOC in those days. Presently I’m involved in the entry levels of athletics.
I’m still the Track and Field Chairperson of primary schools in South Africa and obviously you know that I’m in fact the Chairperson for Athletics South Africa. I’m involved until the lowest levels. As I pointed out, myself, I was an athlete in the days of separation. So I’m coming a long way representing South African teams on the level only in the country, not outside of the country.
BB: Pieter, you say from the ‘lowest level’, let’s talk about school athletics and track and field. I remember as a school kid having to do, and many of the schools used to have inter-house athletics. Then it was inter-schools and those meets. Are you comfortable that the level of athletics at school level in SA is where it is now? Could we be doing better and if we could, what could we be doing better?
PL: A big concern is the involvement of girls in athletics, in the disadvantaged and rural areas. I think in SA we can do much more to get these athletes or girl athletes involved in athletics.
BB: Pieter, what do you think we’re doing right at school level from an athletics point of view right now?
PL: I think the support of Sports RSA to athletes at primary school level and high school is excellent. I think what we should do is that the Department of Education should become more permanent and give that financial backing to schools, especially those, as pointed out earlier, in the rural area. If we get that support, especially financial, then our athletics will be much better. I think the structures are presently addressing or are contributing to our excellent performance at national level.
Looking forward to the Big Show
BB: Let’s touch on Olympics to wrap things up, what are you looking forward to most?
PL: It’s the first time managing an athletics team at this level. I’m really looking forward to come back successfully and as soon as possible to be in Rio with the team and start with the preparation.
BB: You talk about managing a team, what exactly is your role going to be Pieter?
PL: That is to be a planner/organiser/administrator/negotiator and communicator, all these issues that contribute towards being successful managing the team. To motivate the athletes, see that the first aid and the support teams are in place for our athletes to bring the glory to South Africa.
BB: Pieter, thank you so much for your time here on Old Mutual Live, safe travels, best of luck and please pass on our best to the entire Team South Africa. We hope it’s a successful Olympic campaign, we can’t wait to welcome them all back as heroes.
PL: Thanks a lot Brad, I’m very excited and hope in coming back we will be smiling and have a good party.