Let the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro begin. After four years of blood, sweat and tears, the world’s top athletes get a chance to prove their worth against the cream of the crop in Brazil over the next three weeks. The opening ceremony officially kicked off proceedings in the early hours of this morning after a few soccer fixtures played out earlier in the week.
Team South Africa put huge pressure on the athletes ahead of the Games, targeting a whopping 10 medals. South Africa have only managed to collect 10 medals at an Olympics twice – in Antwerp in 1920 and at Helsinki in 1952. South Africa has only managed 18 other medals since readmission, from Barcelona in 1992 to Athens 2004. To put matters into perspective, at London 2012 South Africa had a wonderful Olympics when they bagged six medals, including three golds.
Four years before that, in Beijing, Khotso Mokoena’s silver medal in the long jump was the country’s lone success. But Team SA boast one of their strongest Olympic squads in history. Wayde van Niekerk, Caster Semenya and Sunette Viljoen are all serious medal contenders on the track, while Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh are superstars in the swimming pool. Rowing is also expected to weigh in with a medal or two and the Blitzboks Sevens rugby team have the quality to go all the way.
SA need look no further than their national soccer teams at the Rio Olympics for inspiration. The national under-23s held the Neymar-led hosts to a goalless draw on Thursday and, had it not been for a goalkeeping blunder against Sweden, Banyana Banyana could have also walked away with a point on Wednesday. Let’s get behind our athletes. We are confident they will make SA proud.