TEAM South Africa did not exactly meet the expectations of the South African Sports and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
However, there were a lot of positives, with some records broken and the emergence of new talent in the shape of the likes of Clarence Munyai, Tatjana Schoenmaker and Clint Hendricks. The team was set a fifth place target, but finished sixth with 37 medals and were three short of equalling the target they set four years ago in Glasgow, Scotland.
They only moved up one place from seventh in 2014 to sixth this year. Four years ago, Team SA finished with 40 medals which included 13 golds, 10 silver and 17 bronze. This year, they had a haul of 13 golds, 11 silver and 13 bronze. Despite them coming short though, once again swimming and athletics stood tall for Team SA as together they brought in the bulk of the medals.
Track and field impressed with three records broken at the games by SA athletes. Middle distance runner Caster Semenya won gold in both the 1 500m and 800m while also setting the games new record.
Long jumper Luvo Manyonga set a new record when he won gold in his event, while 100m specialist Akani Simbine Team SA miss target South Africa narrowly miss Commonwealth Games goal but have much to be proud of won the country’s first title in the event.
Simbine also inspired the men’s 4x100m relay team to win silver and set a new national record. It was a real team effort by the South Africans, but the way Simbine ran the last 100m, it deserves a special mention. Simbine was about the third athlete to receive the baton on the last changeover and for a moment, it looked like the South Africans were going to miss out, but once the Tuks sprinter got into full flight, there was no stopping him.
In swimming, Chad le Clos continued to impress and what more can be said about him competing in his third Commonwealth where he has now collected 17 medals? He is one behind Australia shooter Phillip Adams as the all time best and he will have to wait for Birmingham 2022 to surge past that tally and put it out of reach of anyone for decades to come. Le Clos picked up three gold medals, a silver and bronze.
The Blitzbokke, who won gold four years ago, failed this time as they were beaten 21-14 by England in the bronze match. The Blitzboks will be disappointed with the result as they were the favourites to win the tournament but failed to live up to the tag.