“I think the IOC is the perfect example of having some of the wrong people in the right places.”
That’s the strident view of the Laureus Academy member and British Olympic great Daley Thompson.
The two-time Olympic decathlon gold medalist was voicing his concern after watching the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro which saw numerous challenges for organisers and has seen venues seemingly fall into a state of disrepair and has left the legacy of the showpiece in question.
“I don’t think that the people in charge of running sport or the IOC who run the Olympics, understand what they have in their hands. A lot of them are still only interested in Empire-building and guarding what they have, and not looking after the precious thing that they have.”
Thompson also acknowledges the significant challenges that face his former sport, athletics, in light of the recent headlines involving its leadership and allegations of state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes.
“I’m not sure how the sport is going to be able to cope without its frontman (Usain Bolt), it’s struggled in recent years to gain traction in peoples imagination because football seems to have overtaken it and every other sport combined. It’s an interesting time for the sport.”
Thompson was speaking in Cape Town in Episode 2 of the Power of Sport podcast, hosted by journalist Jean Smyth, out now and available for download from the iTunes store.
In the wide-ranging interview Thompson, who was in the Mother City to ride the world’s largest timed bicycle race, the Cape Town Cycle Tour, which had to be cancelled due to extreme weather conditions, reflected on his own long history with Laureus and the opportunities it’s provided him to give back to sport.
Thompson also smilingly recalled a goal he scored at Wembley ahead of the 1987 FA Cup final saying, tongue firmly in cheek, that the famous venue hadn’t witnessed a better strike in its long history as well as taking part in our Blitz feature – seven rapid fire questions with no time to think – so listen to find out if he went for the All Blacks or the Springboks!
Also in Episode 2, we tracked the continued rise of the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy team of William Mokgopo and Phillimon Sebona who cruised to victory at the Absa Cape Epic in the Exxaro special category.
They finished in 11th place in the red jersey category for all-African teams and 42nd overall on the general classification behind the team of Nino Schurter (Laureus ambassador) and Mattias Stirnemann of SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing.
It’s been an extraordinary ascent for the Mokgopo and Sebona who hail from one of the most impoverished communities in South Africa, Diepsloot.
”People who used to bully me are now my friends, asking me for advice or how to do this and how to do that. When I saw that change I realized what a role model I was becoming to everyone.
“That for me is the story that I want to tell, I want to be like a living testimony and tell the story while I’m still trying to reach my goals,” said Mokgopo.
This action-packed episode also travels to the Laureus Sport for Good winners, Waves for Change, taking the plunge with the award-winning surf therapy project to tell the stories behind the story.
Founder Tim Conibear, coaches Guyver Ngeyake, Melreen de Villiers and Abdul Aziz-Stemmet as well as kids from the project all emotionally shared their experiences of how surfing has turned their own personal circumstances around.
“Living in this community where we are there’s a lot of violence (gang-related) and it’s not nice for a child to grow up in that environment. There was no mentor for me when I was a little child so to be a mentor for these children is my passion. I want to work with children just to make that difference in one child’s life, which inspires me,” said de Villiers.
“I’m just being the mentor that I never had in my life for these children.”
To find out subscribe to podcast now on iTunes and follow us on social media at #PowerOfSport.