George Municipality as one of the main sponsors of the SA Cross Country Championship which is being held at Olympia School, Pacaltsdorp on 13 September launched the event on Friday with ASWD, DECTI/Tirisano Trust and M&M at the King George Hotel.
Top athletes, Stephen Mokoka South African long-distance runner, Elroy Galant, originally from George and currently at North West University and Zola Budd, veteran long distance runner are some of the big names who will be taking part in the event.
Cllr Daniel Maritz, Executive Deputy Mayor of George was representing the Executive Mayor of George, Alderman Charles Standers, said it is a privilege to be the host of the South African Cross Country Championship. “Our City has become renowned and a house brand name amongst international competitors, spectators and the connoisseur sport followers alike across the globe. Having provincial, national and international athletes competing on our soil, serves as an indication of ASA’s (Athletics South Africa’s) trust in our ability to host events of this magnitude.
I can with confidence say that George is establishing itself amongst the best sport destinations in the country. He said sport and especially cross country offer us a change away from the monotony of daily life, but it improves capabilities, efficiency, builds character and weaves the very fabric on which communities are build. The vision of George Municipality is to create an open sports opportunity society and bring sports events of national and international format through partnerships to our city.
Mr Moses Gericke, President: Athletics SWD, said in his address he appreciates the co-host George City Council’s commitment to render extra support in availing much needed Championship Event infrastructure and logistics. “We Athletics SWD, wish to thank in advance sponsorship assistance and underwriting the commencement of the 1st SA Cross Country Championship ever to be hosted in the City of George. He announced that up to 3500 runners and athletes from the tender age of 8 years, across the age spectrum to 85 years will participate in the event. He said all distances, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 km has been standardised to ensure open and fair participation of young and old.
“ASA and Athletics SWD felt warmly blessed and cannot hide our pride in the exposure that local runners and athletes are enjoying in particularly in George and the wider Eden Region.
The Junior 19 years and Senior will be the highlight of the day and cash prizes totalling R30 000 will be won. Other athletes will receive category medals and participation medals to all finishers.
He said George’s economy will be stimulated during the weekend of 12 and 13 September 2014 and all sponsors, including the George Municipality, will benefit from the live television broadcasts.
Gericke and Maritz agreed that the natural beauty of George and the Garden Route, the infrastructure and political stability are only some of the reasons that George is a preferred destination for Sports.
Mr Johan Streuderst, from DECTI Raising-the-bar and Tirisano Trust, one of the main sponsors, said they are especially part of the event because it is held in Pacaltsdorp, although it’s beautiful it needs development. “Cross Country is not as flashy and sexy as other sport codes, but it requires determination and passion. You don’t need equipment and it is based on merit and is good for the development of children’s character,” Streuderst said.
Mr. Nazeem Mathews from M & M Marketing, another main sponsor, said SABC Sport would give the event excellent coverage and he would want to see the event back in George for at least the next 3 years to come. Mathews said he is happy that the event would boost the economy of George.
Cllr. Rassie de Villiers, Portfolio Councillor for Sport, said George is a sport Mecca and the Council strives to expose the youth to the great opportunities that come with sport while they are at the same time being kept from moral and social decay.
Mr Joe Arendse, ASWD Cross Country Chairman, said the Olympia School has the best track for Cross Country, where you could sit in one place and see 98% of the race. He especially thanked George Municipality and the Executive Mayor in making sure this event becomes a reality for George.