The power of Bert Le Clos knows no bounds: a day after Chad's dad described as "pathetic" South Africa's inability to pay for its swimmers to race at world titles this summer, the cash has been found to foot the Barcelona 2013 bill for the nation's fastest fish.
The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) has confirmed that South Africa's elite swimmers will participate in the World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona in July - and the best will be paid for. That includes Chad Le Clos and Cameron Van Der Burgh, Olympic champions in the 200m butterfly and 100m breaststroke respectively at London 2012.
Swimming SA (SSA) told its home media that "lesser known athletes" might need to contribute some of the costs if they hope to take part.
Sascoc chief executive Tubby Reddy said today that the federation would cover the costs of "all athletes on their operation excellence (Opex) programme". He explained: "When we got back from the London Olympic Games last year, SSA indicated that their main sponsor, Telkom, had pulled out, and that they would have functional issues financially. We have retained all Olympic medalists and finalists on the Opex programme from the London Games to this point, and we will now reassess the athletes on the list. Anyone in the next phase of Opex will have their expenses covered by Sascoc, but SSA will need to focus on finding funds to cover the other members of the team."
Swim fed chief executive Shaun Adriaanse, said SSA hoped to find a commercial sponsor to send the athletes who were not included in Opex. "It's always a struggle finding major sponsors and we haven't been able to find a replacement since Telkom decided not to renew its contract," Adriaanse said. "Barring those on Opex, the athletes might need to make a contribution to ensure their participation."
The federation is also planned to send men's and women's water polo squads, a synchronised swimming team, and a group of divers to compete at FINA world titles in Barcelona.
"We have got some funding from FINAa, which will help with the costs, and if we can find a corporate sponsor before the championships the athletes won't need to contribute," he said. "Most of the funding we have will go to the swimmers, and the athletes in other disciplines, like the divers who are going to the world championships for the first time, will probably need to contribute more, but it depends on how many athletes qualify. We need to manage the risk and make provisions to cover the costs."