TEAM SA COLLECTS 10 MEDALS IN RIO
*Caster Simenya on the podium with her gold medal
Written by: Ndumiso Nxumalo
Out of a total of 306 sets of medals awarded across 28 Olympic sports, team South Africa will return with just 10 medals from those.
That’s reason enough to celebrate considering it’s the best haul by a South African team in 96 years. South Africans can certainly be proud of what was achieved in Rio, especially considering the team returned from Beijing eight years ago with a solitary silver medal.
After winning the 800m final on Saturday night, Caster Simenya said she wasn’t really under pressure but was obviously had to do it for her people.
“They were expecting more out of me. They know what I can do so they knew I could produce such a performance
“I think I make a difference. I mean a lot to my people. That was my main focus – just doing it for my people,” said Simenya.
“This is the highlight of my life. It’s fantastic. I feel proud to be South African,” she added.
The 800m was a victory for African women in general with Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba taking the silver and Kenyan Margaret Wambui the bronze.
Van Niekerk’s achievement – winning the 400m gold on his way to crushing the great Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old world record was one of the highlights of the Games, not only for South Africans but international athletics fans as well.
Meanwhile, SA’s total of six silver medals is the highest at any Games and while javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen and swimming’s Chad le Clos (100m butterfly and 200m freestyle) were initially disappointed to miss out on the gold, they were happy to leave the Games having contributed to the medal tally.
Viljoen was especially proud considering it was her fourth Olympic Games.
Long jumper Luvo Manyonga and rowing’s Lawrence Brittain ,silver with Shaun Keeling in the men’s pair could share the award for comeback of the year.
Manyonga has overcome a drug addiction to make it to the Olympic podium while Brittain beat cancer before returning to the boat and going on to take one of the most emotional medals of the Games.
Cameron van der Burgh always knew beating world record-holder Adam Peaty was going to be a near impossible task but he did well to hold his nerve to take second spot behind the invincible Brit.
There was the underdog bronze medal that came from triathlete Henri Schoeman. Almost all the pre-Game focus had been on the 24-year-old’s more experienced teammate, Richard Murray, who eventually finished fourth but it was Schoeman who stole the show and the surprise medal.
The total of two golds, six silver and two bronze medals means South Africa finish these Games 30th on the overall medal table and second on the continent after Kenya (15th).