The national governing body is targeting a top-five finish at next month’s Commonwealth Games, SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam said on Monday night during a farewell function for the team in Kempton Park.
At the last edition of the Games, in Glasgow four years ago, the SA squad finished seventh in the final standings with 40 medals, including 13 gold.
While it was the team’s highest medal count since the 2002 Games in Manchester, it was the country’s lowest position in the medals table since the 1994 edition in Victoria.
“We have a goal to make sure we are in the top five,” Sam said.
“It worried us as a board and a country that we fell down in Scotland from number five to number seven.”
Sascoc unveiled a 193-member final team last month, which was set to compete in 15 codes at the quadrennial showpiece.
The squad included the likes of four-time Olympic swimming medallist Chad le Clos, in-form middle-distance runner Caster Semenya and the Springbok Sevens team, who were all among the favourites for gold in their disciplines.
Lucrative incentives were on offer for the country’s podium finishers, with R55 000 on the line for a gold medal, R25 000 for silver and R15 000 for bronze.
“This is not a team to make up the numbers in Gold Coast,” Sam said.
“It is a team that’s going out there to compete.”
Olympic and world 800m champion Semenya, who was set to make her Commonwealth Games debut after failing to qualify for the 2014 Glasgow showpiece, was unveiled as the team’s flag bearer for the opening ceremony.
“It’s quite special. I feel honoured and privileged to lead the team onto the field,” Semenya said.
The 21st edition of the Commonwealth Games, featuring 71 countries in 18 sport codes, will be held on Australia’s Gold Coast between April 4-15.