Creation of the Seychelles National Olympic Committee
Although Seychelles is a small country which only became independent in 1976, Seychelles sport has achieved excellent results internationally in different sporting events like the Commonwealth Games, the All-Africa Games, the Indian Ocean Islands Games, the African Athletics Championship, and the African Boxing Championship among others.
In fact, Seychelles made its first participation in a major international Games in 1979. That was the first edition of the Indian Ocean Islands Games in Reunion. The results of Seychellois athletes were so good that everyone started talking about the country making its debut at the Olympic Games in Moscow, Soviet Union, the following year (1980).
To be able to participate in the Olympic Games, Seychelles needed to have an Olympic Committee and it had to be affiliated with the IOC. At this point stemmed the idea of Seychelles having its Olympic Committee. Motivated with the prospect of Seychelles’ participation in the international arena, John Pillay and his team immediately started the ball rolling by making enquiries about the procedures to join the IOC. He joined with other sports-minded and influential persons like Antonio Gopal, Simon Lespoir, Rene Youpa, Walter Fernandez and Rose-Marie Uranie requesting them to take part in the initial formation and the establishment of Seychelles National Olympic Committee (SNOC), with the objective of getting Seychelles to participate in the 1980 Moscow Olympiad.
SNOC was created in 1979, in Victoria, and recognized that same year by the IOC with Irish Michael Morris Killanin as its president. Once the foundation stone was laid, things moved in quick tempo.
In Moscow, in 1980, Seychelles participated for the first time in the Olympic Games. With very little preparation, Seychelles did not win any medal. Since then, Seychelles still has not won any Olympic medal in 9 participations, but before the country left for Athens, Greece to participate in the XXVIII Olympiad in 2004, current SNOC President, Antonio Gopal noted that ‘’ Seychelles’ dream of winning an Olympic medal’’ will happen provided potential athletes follow good training plans and are exposed to international competitions.
Although Seychelles has never competed in the Winter Olympic Games, its best performance at the Olympics came in 1992 when light heavyweight boxer Roland Raforme won two bouts to finish 5th out of 27 boxers in his class. In 1996, another boxer, Rival Cadeau (now Payet) finished 5th in the light middleweight class. In 2004, canoeist Tony Lespoir qualified for the semi-final of the K1 500 meters race after taking sixth place in the heat.
Today, the journey continues as SNOC supports the top athletes who represent our country. Sports being the major uniting factor in our country and helps create a harmonious Seychelles, SNOC, which provides the support for athletes to achieve world class performances, is pleased of the role it plays in making local stars, who have excelled internationally, role models for our youth.
Over the years, the presidents of SNOC have been Messrs.’ John Pillay (1979-1982), John Mascarenhas (1982-1991) and Antonio Gopal (1992 till now).
“All the countries have the opportunity to be part of the Olympic family and Seychelles is no exception. Being affiliated to the prestigious international body which is the IOC helps in sports development in the country’’ said Antonio Gopal, the incumbent SNOC President.
“ Before 1979, the main sports practiced here were, football, boxing, watersports, track and filed athletics, hockey and netball. Being a young nation, the Seychelles Government had its priorities which included social welfare, housing among others. In 1979, with the good results achieved by Seychellois athletes at the Indian Ocean Islands Games in Reunion, sports became a point of concern to the Seychelles government and its started giving assistance and funding,’’ added Gopal.