Sport

10 medals within reach for Team SA

2016-08-14 16:52

South Africa has six medals in the bag, and our own Wayde and Caster are yet to run. Will we get 10?

With a week gone at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, South Africa had attained six medals, and the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) target of 10 seems attainable.

Luvo Manyonga brought Team SA’s tally to six in the early hours of this morning as he claimed silver in the men’s long jump.

Poster boy Wayde van Niekerk, who was the flag bearer for Team SA at the opening ceremony at Maracanã Stadium in Rio, is a firm favourite to win a gold medal in the men’s 400m final at the Olympic Stadium tomorrow morning (3am SA time).

The sprinter, who has not even gone sightseeing – preferring to spend more time in his room watching movies to calm his nerves – was confidence personified when he spoke to City Press.

“I have not really seen the beauty of this country, but once I have run in the final, I will be a free man to do so. I stay indoors to relax as much as I can. I will have more time to take pictures and see the sights at the end of my event,” he said.

“I do get a bit nervous when I think about the Olympics and the worst that could happen to me is not to secure a podium finish. But I trust in God.”

Caster Semenya is also a strong favourite to scoop a gold medal.

She is in the form of her life, having set the world leading time of 1:55:33 in the 800m race at the Diamond League in Monaco last month, just a few days before the Olympics commenced.

The only person who can stop her from winning a medal is herself.

African long jump champion Rushwahl Samaai is also in the form of his life.

The University of Johannesburg lanky jumper, who was based in Gemona, Italy, for his Olympic preparation, leaped to an impressive 8.40m at the African champs in Durban in June.

He is the unsung hero in this team and not many know about his rise in the sport.

The 23-year-old is hungry for a medal in his debut Olympics.

Sunette Viljoen, who is probably in her last Olympic Games, is eager to bow out with an Olympic medal after a disappointing campaign in 2012.

The African javelin queen is a sure bet to secure a podium finish and it doesn’t matter what colour the medal is.

There is also World Championships bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana to look out for.

He has not competed in any events this year because he’s been recovering from injury, but he has proved in the past that he is capable of securing a podium place at what is his second Olympic Games.

There might be one or two surprise packages from South Africa’s fastest man Akani Simbine, who recorded his personal best in the men’s 100m in Hungary before going into the Rio showpiece.

At his best, Simbine, the African Champs bronze medallist, can take on anyone and win.

He will be running in the 100m semi-final at 2am tomorrow.

Track and field promises at least five medals at this year’s Olympic Games and that increases Sascoc’s chances of reaching its target.

With six in the bag, the target of 10 is within sight should athletics live up to expectations in the final week of the Olympics.

On paper, they can do it. It’s just a matter of transferring their form on to the track.

Looking back, Team SA achieved a haul of six medals at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The country has had mixed fortunes over the years. At the 1996 Games in Atlanta, Mzansi achieved a tally of six medals, five in Athens in 2004 and they brought back only one from Beijing in 2008, one of the worst performances by Team SA.

Events to look forward to this week:

. Van Niekerk, 400m final, tomorrow 3am

. Sunette Viljoen, javelin, Wednesday 1.35am, qualification rounds, Friday 2am final

. Caster Semenya, 800m, Wednesday 3.55pm. Friday semifinals 2.15am, and the final on Sunday at 2.15am

. Lusapho April, Sibusiso Nzima and Lungile Gongqa 42km marathon, Sunday 2.30pm

(All times South African)

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