Gold, bronze or silver? Seychelles’ quest to bring home first Olympic medal begins
The race is on in Seychelles to bring home a first Olympic medal. Whatever the colour, a government-backed initiative was launched this month to prepare athletes of the island nation for the Paris Olympics and beyond.
The initiative is aimed at identifying talent and then supporting athletes with training and international exposure at high-level competitions, leading to an overall goal of bringing to the island nation an Olympic medal if not by 2024 then by the 2028 summer games.
In a ceremony last Friday at the Kempinski Resort and Spa, the main partner of this initiative, the Minister of Youth, Sports and Family, Marie Celine Zialor, said that winning a medal is a must and can be done.
“We can do this, let’s do this, we have to do this if not for us but our children. We need to come together, be ready to forget our past differences and work together to get the medal and show our children that we can get the medal. We should lead by example, show our maturity, our wisdom and unify to be part of a new journey to bring the medal home. I do not doubt in my mind that we are having this medal, it’s just a matter of when,” said Zialor.
The Minister added that this can happen with everyone’s involvement and support and more importantly by bringing back unity in sports which for now is not the case.
The initiative was launched last Friday at at the Kempinski Resort and Spa. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY
The chief executive of the National Sports Council (NSC), Jean Larue, said that the initiative is aimed at maximising the impact of sporting success by targeting investment at athletes and sports capable of winning medals in 2024, 2028 and 2032 summer Olympic games.
Larue explained that this can be done by investing in athletes, sports and people. “Identify and support the athletes and sports that are within the high-performance pathway. Investing in the high-performance strategy for supporting the athletes by understanding the costs of success and meeting these costs,” said Larue, detailing the ‘Journey to bring home an Olympic medal’.
“We need to push them to get the results and Seychelles must invest in training, competitions, sports programmes we believe are potentially viable to bring medals and of course the required discipline,” said Larue.
According to the chief executive a collaborative approach is needed with support from the government, private sector, businesses, individuals, amongst others. “We need to work together and collaboratively to unlock future investments while making sure we continue to shape sports development in Seychelles.”
Seychelles — 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean — has been participating in the Summer Olympics since 1980. The closest that the islands came to winning a medal was through its boxing champion Rival Cadeau Payet who in 1996 came fourth at the Atlanta Olympics.
The boxer said that he believes that one day Seychelles will see an Olympic medal especially now with the new spirit to take sports to a new level. However, Cadeau Payet had a special message for athletes especially the younger ones: they should remain focused and determined in their training, for participating in the world event is the dream of every athlete.
“You should be determined, remain set and focus on your goal, put your heart and all your energy in your determination to achieve your goal because believe me it is not an easy feat but of course it is not impossible,” explained Cadeau Payet.
For the Minister responsible for sports, Seychelles winning a medal – whatever the colour – is possible for the Seychellois athletes as she firmly believes that no human is limited. “Just imagine the impact if a country the size of Seychelles was to win an Olympic medal! You know what message this would bring to our young people, to everybody who thinks small countries can achieve so much?” she said.
With the launching of the programmes, authorities will now decide on the costs that will go winning the medals and more important rewards for the athletes.
According to the CEO of the National Sports Council, “Seychelles must understand the cost of Olympic medal success to enable it to define the resources required by each world class programme. To secure the long-term financial sustainability of the high-performance system, we expect resources will come from the different sectors of our economy.”