Despite several challenges, the progress of the South African women’s team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia are on track.
Annerine Wenhold, administrator of the women’s team, was positive about the team selection after having seen them in action at the national trials in Cape Town earlier this month.
The former age-group world championships gold medallist said the squad had shown great improvement since the initial candidates were announced earlier this year.
“Physiologically, they are collectively at a better place than where they have been in a long time and the new national team pursuit record set this week is an indicator thereof,” said the 43-year-old from Vanderbijlpark.
She said the group’s dedication had seen them improve greatly in a relatively short space of time and, if this continued, believed they were in the right position to close the performance gap to their international counterparts.
Despite the improvements, Wenhold said there were a number of obstacles they would have to overcome before it was possible to reach their full potential.
However, she said the local riders had training together and some of them were heading to Malaysia this weekend to compete, which would give them a chance to meet up with their compatriots.
She said limited funds for athletes and volunteers were a further challenge as it placed them on an uneven playing field compared to their international counterparts.
“To compete successfully at an international level, in addition to talent, dedication and tenacity, one needs external support such as funding and high-performance structures.
“We’ve got the internal focus, but the external is lacking on various fronts, which is hindering our progress,” she said.
Teams are looking to gain funding from the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), but are required to meet internal time standards set by the track working group.
Wenhold said she believed the team were extremely motivated and willing to make huge personal sacrifices to realise this dream.
“I’m humbled by the character being shown, and it indicates that more can be expected if this dedication can be maintained. These are currently the best track riders in South Africa for this mission.”
The final motivations for inclusion in Team South Africa will be made to Sascoc by January 4, with the team announced on January 25.