The most medals South Africa has won at a Summer Olympics post isolation is 6 which was first achieved in 2004 in Athens before repeating the feat in 2012 in London. The country did amass 10 medals in 1920 (Antwerp) and in 1952 (Helsinki). SASCOC have set the 137 strong team a goal of 10 medals at the Games and we decided to look in to where those ten could come from.
Wayde van Niekerk
The World Champion has been immense in since his gold medal at the IAAF World Championship in 2015. He will face stiff competition from Kirani James and LeShawn Merrit but if the local man runs to his capability he will be South Africa’s golden man again! In case you forgot he is the first man in history to break 10 seconds in the 100m, 20 seconds in the 200m and 44 seconds in the 400m.
Caster has seemingly rediscovered her blistering form this year and has produced three of the four fastest times in 2016. She comes into the Olympics on the back of an incredible 1:55 in Monaco, matching the time she ran in Berlin in 2009 to win gold there. She has rediscovered her enjoyment in the sport and it is evident in the way she is running. Alongside Wayde she is our primary hope for gold at Rio.
It seems frankly ridiculous that the ex South African Women cricketer has not yet won an Olympic medal after missing out by centimetres in London in 2012. Sunette has represented South Africa so immensely over the past decade and won 2 World Championship medals, 3 Commonwealth Games and a whole bunch at the African Champs. She is currently ranked as won of the best in the world and has had a decorated career that deserves the missing medal.
Chad le Clos
Chad could not have asked for worse preparations after news broke that both his parents were suffering with cancer, but Chad is still South Africa’s golden boy and Michael Phelps worst nightmare. The 100 and 200 butterfly is where Le Clos will be desperate to match his achievements from London four years ago. Chad has not hit top form yet but we know he has it in him and hopefully his parents being there will spur our favourite on to another medal!
Cameron van der Burgh
The swimming pool is often where we have a great experience and in Cameron we have an Olympic Champion, a World Champion and a Commonwealth Games Champion. Although you will find very few willing to bet against Adam Peaty, there is no doubt that Cameron saves his best for major championships. I truly expect the 100m Breaststroke to be one of the best races.
After a season that ultimately finished second mostly down to a great level of consistency. Neil Powell has picked a side capable of winning the tournament but they will come up against Fiji, New Zealand and themselves. In a season when they finished in the top three in seven out of ten tournaments, the Blitzbokke only picked up one title while losing three finals (To Fiji, New Zealand and Scotland!). If the team clicks there is no doubt that SA could win gold.
James Thompson & John Smith
Two members of the Oarsome Foursome that rocked the world with the impossible and unlikely gold medal in London return to Rio but this time in the men’s lightweight double sculls. The pair together are not just gold medalists from London, they also won gold as a pair in the 2014 World Rowing Championships. Bookies have the pair as third favourites but we know that these two know how to lift their game at the right time!
South Africa’s bronze medalist in 2012 London threw a great surprise in and we are backing Bridgette to do it again. Seen as an outsider by many but has produced well on the big stage winning medals at the 2009 and 2014 World Championships as well. She recently has shown great progress in the World Cup series and we would love to see her capitalise on that form in Rio
Okay this one is tough. Akani Simbine has just smashed the SA Record and looks primed to push in the 100m but you just have to glance an eye to the 2015 World Championships when Anaso entered the 200m tournament after a tough run of injuries and instead of being the youngster in awe of Usain Bolt, the South African held his own and won a bronze medal to many surprise. He is back from fitness and has been training well in America, can the super speedster bring home the more illusive medal. I believe he can!
The Commonwealth Games Bronze medalist has seen his stock rise as he has moved to third in the IAAF World Rankings and has been predicted by Sports Illustrated in the United States to sneak into third place and win the bronze medal. He jumped an incredible 8.38 in May this year, the fifth best in the world but his steady progress means he would be an interesting bet. He is also a Varsity Sports product!
Thats our pick of ten potential medalist for South Africa at these games. I really hope Im wrong in only selecting ten and somehow we come back with 12 or 13, but 10 would be outstanding. One thing is for sure, its a great time to be proudly South African.