SA men's hockey team commended
Pretoria - Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula has applauded the fighting spirit displayed by the South African men's hockey team in qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics.
On Sunday, the men's hockey team joined their female counterparts in qualifying for the Olympics when they defeated Japan 2-1 in the final qualifying tournament.
Tabling his Budget Vote in Parliament on Friday, Mbalula said: "As we speak... many more South African athletes continue to book their places for the London Olympics this year.
"To this end, I would like to ask the House to give a round of applause to the fighting spirit of our hockey men's side that has qualified on Sunday in Japan and booked its ticket to London. Well done, boys!"
According to Mbalula, this year the qualification standards for the Olympics have been set a bar higher than the previous years.
"This year, our qualification standards have been set a bar higher than the previous years to ensure that the team we send to London is a quality team that can bring back more medals to South Africa than was the case in Beijing 2008," he said.
The minister said this was done to instill a culture of a winning nation.
"We have seen earlier on, in the qualifier championships that our women's teams are leading the pack with Banyana Banyana and the national Women's Hockey team, affectionately known as the Smoothies, qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics. This, despite the skewed resourcing of these women's teams, in comparison to their male counter parts.
"Banyana Banyana and the Smoothies have made us proud through their actions and commitment," he said.
In congratulating teams that have already qualified for the Olympics, Mbalula said: "We hope and trust that our investments in the preparations will not be in vain.
"We embark on this journey of nations of the world, where every country has to showcase how their sport development programmes have unleashed good results for higher performance with the knowledge that we are only starting from scratch and we expect only the best efforts from our athletes."
Mbalula said the African National Congress (ANC) led government has invested almost more than R31 million in the preparations for the success of Team SA.
"We hope that the support they have received from us, together with the National Distribution Agency for Sport and Recreation and the business sector, will go a long way in bringing more medals than the Beijing 2008 Olympics," he said. - BuaNews