I’ve always been a sports fan, my first love is football, followed by athletics and then a plethora of disciplines. I remember admiring Great Britain’s Daley Thompson in the summer Olympics of 1984, we were visiting family in the UK and the Brits were going mal over Thompson’s efforts in the decathlon. I was too young to grasp the enormity of the Olympic games. I was more fascinated by 24 hour television stations and having more than 3 to choose from, let alone my uncle’s new satellite dish TV with all kinds of interesting channels.
Today we’re celebrating South Africa’s 2016 achievements. The bookies thought we’d get 8 medals before the games but we’re celebrating 10!
1. Cameron van der Burgh won our first medal, silver in the men’s 100m breaststroke. Unfortunately van der Burgh was unable to repeat his 2012 gold medal but our duck was broken and the games were afoot.
2. On day 2 Chad le Clos opened his account with a silver in the 200m freestyle behind China’s Sun Yang. On day 4 Le Clos finished 4th in the event he won at the 2012 Olympics behind his childhood hero Phelps, Japan’s Sakai and Hungary’s Kenderesi.
3. Day 5 brought two medals, the first for men’s coxless pair in the rowing. Keeling and Brittain achieving an unexpected second place in a tough event behind New Zealand pair, Bond and Murray.
4. Our 7’s team, affectionately known as the Blitzbokke but renamed to Team SA for the Olympics, although no-one seems to have told the commentators, secured a Bronze medal. While I’m happy our boys made the Bronze medal game I think most will feel we should’ve made the final and given the Fijians a real test.
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) August 13, 2016
5. Just a few days later, for Chad, one of the most unusual races finished with le Clos sharing second place with two other swimmers. The 100m butterfly event unearthed a new champion in Singapore’s Joseph Schooling but perhaps the bigger story is 3 swimmers clocking exactly the same time. Le Clos, Phelps and László Cseh all stopped the clock at 51.14.
Great photo of Luvo Manyonga pic.twitter.com/p2wr2wSVWA
— RunRideDive (@RunRideDive) August 14, 2016
6. Luvo Manyonga kicked off a great weekend in the athletics with a sensational second place in the long jump (above). The gold eluding him by a centimeter! Much has been said about his recent past and how he overcame personal demons to make it to Rio and I’m a firm believer that we should leave his demons behind him instead of introducing them to his moment of glory repeatedly.
— Rio 2016 (@Rio2016_en) August 15, 2016
7. A world record is special at any time but a world record at an Olympic games is sensational. Even more so when the record has stood for a long time. Wayde van Niekerk smashed the 17 year old record of USA super-athlete Michael Johnson in the early hours of Monday August 15, 2016. His time 43.03 for the one lapper (400m).
8. Henri Schoeman surprised most of his with an excellent Bronze in the men’s triathlon. A superb performance behind the dominant Brownlee brothers and just 7 seconds ahead of his teammate Richard Murray (4th). Top performance by both South Africans.
9. Sunette Viljoen threw a 64.92m opening throw to lay claim to the silver medal with only Croatia Sara Kolak able to surpass her effort.
10. Caster Semenya achieved what we all knew she could and what half the world’s female athletes are really unhappy about. A gold in a new African record of 1:55:28, a celebration for Caster and South Africa but likely to be contested down the road by the IAAF and a host of athletes who think Caster should either be on testosterone reducing medication or not allowed to compete at all.
So, while Wayde van Niekerk is probably the Daley Thompson of 11 year old boys from the Orange to Jozini, I think we, South Africans, should hold aloft in our collective admiration the following athletes for a bloody good effort too.
— RunRideDive (@RunRideDive) August 15, 2016
Akani Simbine made the 100m final the same night as van Niekerk set the world alight but we shouldn’t overlook his achievement. A sub 10 second run in the Olympic final saw him finish 5th behind Bolt, Gatlin, de Grasse and Blake. His time will surely come at the next World Champs or 2020 Olympics.
Louis Meintjes is another South African who excelled despite not placing in the top 3. He finished 7th in the road cycling race, credited with the same time as fourth and ahead of double TdF winner, Froome.
Ashleigh Moolman achieved two credible results, 10th in the women’s road race and a few days later, 12th in the time trials, a fantastic effort at two draining sports. Give our interview with Ashley a read.
Brad Tandy a great effort in 50m freestyle, finishing 6th in 21.79 seconds, first place went to Anthony Ervin in 21.40.
Team SA’s rowing!
Men’s lightweight double sculls: 4th James Thompson and John Smith
Women’s coxless pair: 5th Lee-Ann Persse & Kate Christowitz
Men’s coxless four rowing Rio 2016: 4th Vincent Breet, Jake Green, Jonathan Smith & David Hunt
Michelle Weber finished 18th in under 2 hours in the Women’s 10km marathon swim (1:59.05). I can’t swim two hours or 10km so in my book that’s an unbelievable achievement!
A lot of noise was made about the plain white golf bags by some semi-celebrities but Jaco van Zyl didn’t let that stop him scoring a hole-in-one on the par 3 8th hole on Saturday. Van Zyl eventually finished 39th 14 shots behind Justin Rose.
— Olympic Golf (@OlympicGolf) August 13, 2016