The Olympics have come and gone in a blaze of glory. The festivities were incredible and South Africa performed admirably in our quest towards the ridiculous 12 in ’12. As we look back at the games over the next three days we start off with our All Things Jabu salute to the South African medalists. The 6 medals equalled our best haul post isolation which we got at Athens in 2004, but it was our best combination of medals, with 3 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze. The fantastic thing is that it is now 25 medals since isolation and more spin-chillingly awesome fact that our 24th placed finish this year is our best ever, coupled with our second ever finish as the top african nation (1996)! Here are the superstars that got us there:
Cameron van der Burgh: Gold 100m Breaststroke
Cameron was under exceptional pressure to deliver for South Africa. In his interview with the Business Daily Sport magazine before the Olympics, it was very clear that Team South Africa were hoping for Cameron to put momentum in motion for the rest of the team. The South African based swimmer took full responsibility for this and after an okay heat, turned it on in the Semi Final to set an Olympic record. He took it one further in the final and not only broke the Olympic Record again, but also the World Record. A Golden start was exactly what Team SA wanted, a golden start was exactly what Team SA got.
Chad le Clos: Gold 200m Butterfly, Silver 100m Butterfly
Chad was competing in his first ever Olympic Games and the 20-year-old Durbanite didn’t get overwhelmed by the experience. He got off to a great start getting to the final and finishing 5th in the 200m IM. He then lined up in the final alongside his hero and Olympic icon, Michael Phelps. Despite the commentators best attempt to make it look like a Michael Phelps error, Chad swam the perfect swim to close a big gap on Phelps in the final 50m of the 200m Butterfly. He timed it brilliantly and finished on a stroke that took him to the most emotional victory we would experience in the Olympics. Chad wasnt finished yet and went on to win silver in the 100m Butterfly, just behind Phelps. Incredibly Chad swam in 4 individual events and qualified for 4 finals, at the age of 20. South African prospects are looking incredibly bright.
James Thompson, Matthew Brittain, John Smith and Sizwe Ndlovu: Gold Mens Lightweight Coxless Fours
In possibly the most exciting rowing race in Olympic history, the “Oarsome Foursome” from South Africa also battled the commentator thinking that they were Australian to emerge victorious. The race seperated 1st from 4th by 1 second and it was the South African men who ended on top. Although they had finished second to the Danes in both the heat and the semi, they timed it perfectly to leap ahead of their Scandinavian opposition for a fantastic victory.
Caster Semenya: Silver 800m
Caster was the most supported South African at the Olympics. She was our flag bearer too. She didn’t disappoint. She is the fastest women over the final 200m and showed this in the final when she came from 8th place with 200 to go and stormed home in second. With all the optimism around Athletics, Caster did what the others couldn’t and delivered on the potential.
Bridgitte Hartley: Bronze K1-500m
As athletics had kickstarted, the general South African public seemed to forget that we still had other Olympians in action. Bridgitte Hartley was a very little known name in South African sport before the games, but she wont be anymore. The beauty of her medal was that she was South Africa’s first female to medal since Hestrie Cloete in 2004 and of course she did this on National Womens Day.
Relive each of our medal victories here:
Cameron 1oom Breaststroke
Chad 200m Butterfly
Chad 100m Butterfly
Mens lightweight Coxless fours
Caster Semenya 800m
Bridgitte Hartley K1-500