Four-time Olympian Roland Schoeman celebrated a personal victory after he finished sixth in the final of the men’s 50m freestyle at the London Olympics, despite having no financial support from South Africa, he said.
Schoeman, one of South Africa’s most decorated swimmers, launched an attack against the government and the SA Olympic body for their lack of support.
“I would have loved to have been faster,” Schoeman said.
“But not to have been funded at all for the last year-and-a-half by the South African government, not by Sascoc (SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee), not by anybody.
“To come and be placed sixth in the world after everybody had written me off. I’ll take that.”
As one of the country’s most successful Olympians, he won the bronze medal in the 50m freestyle, a silver in the 100m freestyle, and the gold medal with the 4x100m freestyle relay team at the Athens Games in 2004.
However, he said his result could have been more favourable had he received the same amount of support as London Olympic medallists, Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh.
The 20-year-old Le Clos won a gold medal in the 200m butterfly and a silver in the 100m butterfly, while Van der Burgh clinched gold in the 100m breaststroke.
“A medal would have been tip-top if I had received the R50 000
odd Cameron has been receiving a month, same as Chad, where could I have been?” he said.
“I’ve gone like I said unfunded, I’ve had no massages, I’ve been living off my savings and I’ll take it at this point.”
The 32-year-old Schoeman said he did not know what his long term plans were and he would focus on the upcoming SA short course championships.
“We have SA short course championships in a couple of weeks so I am excited for that,” he said.
“I’ll go do a bit of racing there and hopefully get some funding heading into the world cups and do some world cups and hopefully get some money.”
He said he was satisfied with his progress over the last year and would continue his training in the United States.
“I was 22.40 at the world champs last year and I am 21.8 here,” Schoeman said.
“The States just works for me, South Africa has worked well for Cameron and Chad.”
Schoeman said he had tried to base his training in South Africa with little progress and he was happy with his program in Arizona.
“I tried to come back to South Africa in 2008 and it was just a huge steady decline from there,” he said.
“I love the mentality there (United States), I love the way my training is catered for.
“That’s what works and I have to stick with it.” – Sapa