Team South Africa are enjoying a wonderful Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Heading into the final weekend of competition, South Africa have bagged nine medals. In terms of total medals won, it is their best performance at the Olympics since readmission.
Wayde van Niekerk grabbed SA’s lone gold in the 400m in a world record time, while swimmers Chad Le Clos (two) and Cameron van der Burgh, long jumper Luvo Manyonga, women’s javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen and the men’s rowing pair of Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling brought home six silver medals.
The South African Sevens rugby team and triathlete Henri Schoeman secured SA’s two bronze medals. One would have to go back as far as Helsinki in 1952 to a time when SA last scooped more than six medals. On that occasion they managed 10 – Team South Africa’s goal for Rio de Janeiro. There have also been a number of near misses with a handful of fourth-place finishes for SA.
All eyes now turn to Caster Semenya in the women’s 800m final in the early hours of tomorrow as SA goes in search of the perfect 10. Semenya, who has had to deal with harsh criticism from many around the world who believe her condition, hyperandrogenism, which causes elevated testosterone levels, gives her an unfair advantage.
Some rivals have even gone as far as to call for authorities to revisit rules aimed at setting limits for testosterone. One can only imagine how difficult it is to focus on the Olympics with all the sideshows, but Semenya this week defiantly stood tall when she hit back at her critics, saying: “I’m not focused on people, just on my race.”
She has certainly looked the part to win a gold medal, easing past the heats and semifinals this week. A sports court last year threw out an International Association of Athletics Federations rule aimed at curbing her advantage.
With the law on her side and an entire nation behind her, it’s time for Semenya to bring home the gold. Caster, give it your all.