Team South Africa Close In On 10-Medal Objective At Rio 2016

Team South Africa Close In On 10-Medal Objective At Rio 2016

Thursday was a good day for Team South Africa and their 10-medal objective at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, as two more South Africans earned medals, bringing the country’s tally thus far to nine.

Prior to Rio 2016, which has been ongoing for the last two weeks, South Africa’s Olympic committee mentioned that Team SA would travel to Brazil with the task of returning home with a record medal haul in tow.

The team of 137 athletes were asked to write a new page in South African sporting history, with the biggest ever Team SA contingent aiming to win 10 medals at the Summer Games which began on August 5.

In London four years ago, the South Africans won six medals; three gold, two silver and one bronze, and thanks to the current team’s efforts thus far, the country has achieved nine medals so far in Rio; with one gold, six silver and two bronze.

Team SA’s 10-medal objective within reach

Two of those medals came in events that took place on Thursday in Rio, with Henri Schoeman surprising many to earn a bronze in the men’s triathlon competition, while experienced javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen managed to snag a silver medal in the field athletics discipline.

Schoeman, who had a fever all week and was not sure he would even be able to compete until the last minute, earned a hard fought third-place finish in the race, emerging from the swim and doing well to keep up with the lead pack in the cycling, before keeping pace with the Brownlee brothers in the run for a bronze finish.

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Viljoen’s exploits on the athletics field came as a great relief to the 32-year-old, whose opening throw of 64.92m was enough to earn her an elusive silver medal.

At three previous Olympic Games who had not finished on the podium, and at London 2012 she placed a dreaded fourth in the event.

“I feel so overwhelmed in the first place and also a little bit like – I was so close to the gold medal – it was right there until the end,” she told the media, according to SuperSport.

“But to win a silver – I couldn’t have asked for more after London, to keep fighting for another four years and to come back and win silver.”

Other medals for the South Africans have come from the pool and the track. Chad Le Clos won two silver medals in the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle medley races, while Cameron van der Burgh came second for a silver in the 100 breaststroke.

Chad le Clos, South Africa's swimming darling and most decorated Olympian of all time AfricanMan.co.za
Chad le Clos, South Africa’s swimming darling and most decorated Olympian of all time

The sevens rugby team, nicknamed the Blitzboks, earned their country a bronze medal in the first ever Olympic sevens rugby tournament, while rowing also produced a silver medal in the men’s pairs through Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling.

Long jumper Luvo Manyonga increased Team SA’s medal count this week with an excellent 8.37m leap that was a centimetre from the gold medal winner, earning him silver.

Wayde Van Niekerk produced one of the Rio 2016 highlights earlier in the week with a phenomenal men’s 400m victory, setting a new world record in the event and earning South Africa’s first Olympic gold medal at the competition.

Wayde van Niekerk sets new world record
Wayde van Niekerk sets new world record – liverpoolecho.co.uk

Since the end of apartheid and a return to the Olympics, the six medals in London four years ago was the best effort from Team SA in six attempts, and that record will now be improved upon thanks to the current crop of South African athletes in Rio.

Ten medals would be the country’s best medal haul since re-admission to international sport in 1992, while it would equal the country’s best ever medal tally, which dates back to the Olympic Games of Antwerp 1920 and Helsinki 1952.

Team SA stand on the cusp of achieving that record and realising their 10-medal objective, and with Caster Semenya looking likely to be standing on the top of the podium at the end of the women’s 800m final on Saturday, that tenth medal is within sight.