I am a product of my sweat, tears and hard work.
I often hear people talking about the amount of money the Olympics make but I seldom hear the same people talking about how much is given back to athletes, coaches and National Olympic Committees. As much as we love sport and recognize the importance of it in our community, Zimbabwe does not have the budget to support its athletes at the level we need to compete against the best in the world. I am not a product of Zimbabwe; I am a product of my parents support and a product of my own sweat, tears and hard work.
I am proud to be a Zimbabwean and I’m not upset by the lack of state funding I have received compared to other athletes from 1st world countries, because I know that our financial situation is not the same.
I have trained in the US for many years and have seen how well supported the American athletes are. Does this make the Olympic Games a fair playing field? No. This is the reason Olympic Solidarity is such an important and integral structure within the International Olympic Committee. Although on a slightly different topic this has relevance: in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, my friend and one of my fiercest competitors, Margeret Hoelzer, said this, “If I’m going to be the best in the world, (it shouldn’t be) because I had more opportunities.” (you can read the full article titled Schools That Train the Enemy). The statement Margaret made is exactly what Olympic Solidarity does, it gives athletes opportunities that they never had before.
The Olympic Solidarity budget for sport development between 2013 and 2016 is $438 million. You can see how this is utlised on their website under Global Budget. I am a recipient of their scholarship program so I am also a product of the Olympic Movement. I probably would have still done well without them because I always worked hard and never waited for a handout. However, I would not have been as successful. So the next time you raise your eyebrows about the amount of money the Olympics make, perhaps you can talk about how much of that goes back into developing sport.