Ramaala believes SA running athletes can be better than Kenyans

MAY 12, 2016

Hendrick Ramaala, former South African Olympic athlete and current Olympic running coach, has injected much faith into SA athlete runners as a whole ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August this year.

Ramaala believes there is more talent in the Republic than there is in Kenya with regards to long distance running, specifically those runners who come from the rural areas. He is currently coaching Sibusiso Nzima and Lungile Gongqa, who, along with Lusapho April, will be representing the green and gold of South Africa at the Olympic Games in Rio.

The 44-year-old former Olympian believes that South Africa should be dominating long distance running in particular, due to the country’s superior infrastructure and advanced resources.

“I believe the only difference between the two countries is that Kenya invests much more in their athletes when it comes to appointing qualified coaches to manage programmes that unearths and nurtures talent,” said Ramaala on Tuesday at a send-off hosted by the Nedbank Athletics Club for fellow Comrades and Olympic athletes.

In addition, Ramaala argued that the Department of Sport do not budget their costs wisely and that nothing gets done to rectify it.

“I am coaching two Olympic marathon athletes, but have to do everything on my own. When athletes prepare for the Olympic Games, they have to get the necessary support from the government. After all, they are representing their country,” added Ramaala.

He believes that under the right guidance and through the correct structures, South African athletes will be ideally prepared to succeed. He, however, emphasized that they need lots of money to push these initiatives forward.

“Athletics South Africa (ASA) and the Department of Sport have enough money. I would like to see that the money is not wasted and is spent in a constructive way,” he said.

This statement came after Fikile Mbalula, Minister of Sport, announced of R600 million that they have in their treasury for the development of sport.

Ramaala represented South Africa in four Olympic Games in his career, namely the 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 Games respectively. He still holds the record for the 10 000m with a time of 27 minutes 29.94 seconds, which was set in Port Elizabeth in 1999.