Help a black native South African kid go to the Olympics. Sive Speelman qualified and was invited by the IOC to Sochi, but an antiquated racist quasi-government authority has forbid him from going.
Invictus no more.
Nine mostly fat old South African men and only three women, most incapable of croquet, issued a finding last week that Speelman was not good enough to represent their country, noting that he’s ranked 2,290th in the world of skiers.
(I’m ranked 5,497,213,455th. By the way, I would like to point out that the composition of SASCOC with only three women violates the gender equality clause of the South African constitution.)
Click here to sign the petition that at the very least will embarrass SASCOC. And who knows, if enough of you sign, perhaps Speelman will be set free.
And support the kid: like him on his Facebook page.
Here’s the thing, South Africa. The Olympics is not just about winning. It’s about competing, and Sive Speelman can ski circles around your martinis.
Speelman is an 18-year old native South African who actually learned skiing and trained as a skier in South Africa, and that’s not easy. He would have been one of only 7 African contenders at Sochi, (which is terrible by the way).
And of the remaining 6, Speelman would have been one of only two (!) who are truly through-and-through African!
Only 17-year old Kenza Tazi of Morocco was born and lives in Africa (although she trains in France and spends a lot of time, there). Mathilde Petitjean Amivi (Togo) was born in Niger and lives in France.
Adam Lamhamedi (for Morocco) was born and lives in Canada. Mehdi Selim Khelifi (Algeria) was born and lives in France. Alessia Afi Dipol (Togo) was born and lives in Italy.
And 21-year old Luke Steyn, the only real contender, was born in Zimbabwe but has lived virtually all of us life abroad and is currently a student at the University of Colorado.
Speelman was born, raised, continues to live and train in the far eastern Cape, one of the few places in South Africa where there is regularly enough snow to ski.
“Any other nation in the world would jump at that opportunity and I’m as puzzled as many people are… It’s just sad,” Snow Sport SA president Peter Pilz said.
“It has devastated him,” said his coach.
South Africans of all races are sports crazy. But this is even crazier. This is when winning becomes everything, when bucking the odds is tantamount to failure.
And this will be lasting. It changes forever how the world will think of South Africa, now. No longer a toughie, the image has become one of lack of self-confidence, the little guy who will never get better and so just sits in the corner, whines and refuses to compete.
The fear of loss trumps the best there is.
Just as the ANC seems to be finally evaporating from the scene, so will the latent racism that even shackled blacks carry, today, in South Africa, dissipate. This kid was born after South African independence.
He deserves more. And apparently his home country won’t give it to him.
I’m not sure I agree with you on this one. I have known many Winter Olympians over the years, and I happen to know one who was denied the opportunity this year due to the politics of the sport’s governing body. So, I am very attuned to the personal aspects of this issue. And I have served on a national sports governing body’s board of directors (though never in an athlete selection capacity).
First, I certainly applaud this young man’s commitment and efforts just to learn to ski in a country where that is virtually impossible and where I am sure few if any black children ever have the opportunity to even try on skis. But when you say that he qualified for the Olympics, I’m not sure what that entails. Based upon his ranking in the sport, it can’t be be based upon his performance/results. While the Olympics are about more than just competition (if by that you mean contending for medals), they are still sporting events of the highest caliber, which suggests, and I would say requires, some level of competence. Think of the ski jumper Eddie the Eagle in 1988 in Calgary (and I happened to be there) – other than the comic spectacle he provided for television, did he really belong in the Olympics? I would say not, that his participation made a mockery of the event. In this case, if the person in question were a rich playboy from Paraguay (or better yet, a rich wine grower from South Africa) who was of similar skill and who offered to pay his own way to the Olympics just to march in the ceremonies and say he “competed” in the Olympics, would we be offended if his country refused to make him a member of its team? Of course not.
So,if this skier were sent to Sochi, wouldn’t we really be rewarding him for overcoming adversity, not for demonstrating prowess as a world class athlete? Or would we be championing his cause just to make him a symbolic figure – and at the same time open him up to ridicule for his lack of skills on the downhill course? This is not to say that there may not have been a racist component to the Committee’s decision, but I think that would have been much clearer if there had been an objective and reasonable qualifying standard that the athlete had met (something far more demanding than being ranking 2,290th) and thereafter he was denied the opportunity to compete.
I just think that this is not the best example for decrying the continued vestiges of racism in South Africa. Just my 2 cents.
Your petition has been signed by me and thank you for alerting us to this injustice!
Thanks for letting us know about this. I signed the petition.
I’ve signed the petition
Signed it and liked him on Facebook.
Thanks for bringing this to my attention.