With the 2016 Olympics in Rio taking place next month, the 137 competitors that will represent Team South Africa were announced by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee at an event in Johannesburg.
This represents a large South African team for the Olympic games, and they will hold the hopes of a nation with an ambitious aim to achieve 10 medals in Brazil. By way of comparison, South Africa earned six medals at London 2012.
The Olympics will take place from August 5-12, and all of the competitors in the various sporting codes are now known following the final qualifying deadlines for Rio 2016.
Team South Africa will be expecting medals from the athletics and swimming disciplines, with 39 athletes in track and field qualified to compete in Brazil.
This includes Caster Semenya, who is hoping to win gold in the women’s 800m race, and Wayde van Niekerk, with the men’s 400m race firmly in his grasp.
Numerous other athletes in Team SA will be competing at a high level at the games, with expectations of returning home with medals.
As far as the swimmers are concerned, South Africa have high hopes for butterfly specialist Chad Le Clos, and breast-stroke champion Cameron van der Burgh to add to medals which they earned four years ago in London.
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South Africa have qualified to send sides for three team sports, with the women’s and men’s football teams joining the rugby sevens men’s team in Rio.
This will be the first time that rugby sevens forms part of the Olympics, and the South African selection have a good chance of achieving a podium finish.
Other sports in which Team South Africa will compete include badminton, gymnastics, sailing, equestrian, golf, judo, rowing, canoeing and triathlon.
Golfers Jaco van Zyl and Branden Stone will represent South Africa at the Olympics following the unavailability of Major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace due to fears over the Zika virus in Brazil.
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee president Gideon Sam spoke at the event, congratulating Team SA and asking for them to represent their country with pride and effort.
“You have all earned the ultimate honour of representing your country. We have every faith in you excelling at your various events. Attending the Olympics is the pinnacle of a sportsman’s dream. Go and showcase the rainbow nation to the best of your ability,” said Sam, according to Sport24.
Tubby Reddy, the CEO of the SA Olympic Committee added his congratulations for the competitors who have qualified to travel to Brazil on behalf of South Africa.
“Congratulations to all athletes who have had the honour to be selected as part of Team South Africa and compete in this prestigious sporting event. We’re confident that the team is the creme de la creme of sporting talent, with most of them having represented the country in international sporting events previously,” Reddy added.
“We therefore wish them well and as the Olympic body we will rally behind you all the way. Do the country proud and go well,” he said.
The 137 competitors will be accompanied by their individual coaching and technical staff members, as well as a 14 medical personnel to support the athletes.