The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) has welcomed Bidvest aboard as the official partner of Team South Africa and with it comes the relaunch of its Operation Excellence (OPEX) programme, effective immediately.
The announcement of the new partnership between SASCOC and the Bidvest Group was made at an unveiling at the Inanda Club in Sandton, Johannesburg on Thursday 11 May 2023.
Thanks to a cash injection of R66-million by Bidvest, the OPEX programme has been revived and is set to benefit South African athletes in their Olympic and Paralympic Games preparation for both Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028.
Athletes who become part of the Bidvest OPEX programme will enjoy a range of benefits including living expenses, medical aid, local and international camps and competitions, and scientific and medical support services, to name a few.
SASCOC President, Mr. Barry Hendricks, commented: “There is an undeniable link between funding of athletes and Olympic medals. Thanks to Bidvest for partnering with us on this journey, and while Paris is just around the corner in terms of an elite athlete’s preparation, it is a welcome cash injection, even if the full results will only be seen at LA 2028. I want to thank Bidvest wholeheartedly for their commitment and also thanks to the SASCOC Board and Management who have worked to get us into a position to benefit our athletes in the manner that we are able to now do.”
Bidvest Group Chief Executive, Mpumi Madisa said: “Bidvest is proud to join forces with SASCOC to support those South African sportsmen and women with the potential to compete at the highest level in international sporting events. We particularly look forward to identifying and developing South Africa’s next generation of Olympic athletes. This partnership has deep resonance across our Group, where we continually train and develop new young talent and promote operating excellence within all Bidvest companies”.
SASCOC CEO, Ms Nozipho Jafta added: “Thanks to Bidvest this funding partnership is going to change the lives of countless athletes and aspiring athletes. Paris 2024 is just around the corner. In fact, we are only 442 days away from the start of the Paris Games. The true results of this R66-million partnership will be felt at the 2028 Games in LA and beyond. But it has given every athlete hope and the comfort that they now have a financial blanket to be able to assist them as they work hard to fulfil their potential and dreams.”
Chairperson of the Athletes Commission Mr. Khotso Mokoena also endorsed Bidvest’s partnership. “As a former Olympic athlete who was on the OPEX programme I know what a difference it made to my career. At SASCOC there is a commitment to put the interests of the athlete first and I have no doubt that the re- emergence of the OPEX programme is going to make a huge difference to our athletes in their preparations. I’m excited to see the potential.”
The OPEX programme has been historically directly linked with Team SA’s performance at the Olympics and Paralympics. A selection of Olympic gold medalists who have come from the programme in past years include: Matthew Brittain, Chad le Clos, Ryk Neethling, Sizwe Ndlovu, Roland Schoeman, Caster Semenya, John Smith, James Thompson, Cameron van der Burgh and Wayde van Niekerk.
Paralympic gold medallists include: Dyan Buis, Charl du Toit, Natalie du Toit, Ilse Hayes, Hilton Langenhoven, Teboho Mokgalagadi, Kevin Paul, Zanele Situ and Fanie van der Merwe.
Names of athletes joining the relaunched Bidvest OPEX Programme will be announced in due course. SASCOC has received submissions from National Federations across the three tiers and there are currently teams conducting future talent identification sessions to seek, support and develop young sports people to become future Olympians.