Team SA head home | SASCOC - SASCOC

Team SA head home

By Mark Etheridge

South Africa leave Maputo on Monday as kings of the continent and on top of the medals table after 15 days of battle at the 10th All Africa Games in Mozambique.

They hit the ground running with four medals in the triathlon on day one of the competition on Sunday 4 September and ended it with medals in tennis, judo and soccer on the final day.

That saw them amass a total of 157 medals, broken down into 62 gold, 55 silver and 40 bronze. Clearly this team dealt in gold first and foremost, not colours of a lesser hue.

Compare that to the last Games in Algiers, Algeria where we ended third behind Algeria and Egypt and it’s a rosy picture going forward.

The SA medal tally in Algeria may have been more, 180 of which 61 where gold) but there were more sports and medals on offer on that occasion.

In Maputo there was only going to be one winner as the Games unfolded and second-placed Nigeria (98 medals ÔÇô 31 gold) were light years behind South Africa.

The fine showing means that SA top the medals table for the first time since we hosted the games in 1999 and the team truly stood up to be counted, answering SASCOC President Gideon Sam’s call for them to return as champions.

The encouraging news is also that they won medals across the spectrum. Despite the bulk coming from aquatics (73) and athletics it was only in basketball, women’s soccer, netball, volleyball (although beach volleyball medalled) and table tennis that we came back empty-handed. This from a Games where we 18 different events with medal opportunities.

And even then it wasn’t exactly empty handed as the experience gained from international travel and competition cannot be judged merely in terms of medals.

Typically though, Sam is already looking past these Games and on to bigger things though. “We did very well and we set out to do be the best as we are the economic powerhouse on the continent and should therefore be first in Africa,” Sam said.

“We are after all a nation of winners. The 2011 All Africa Games are now history and we achieved our goal.┬áThe Youth Commonwealth Games are over and we achieved our goal by improving to third place on the medals table┬á Let us now set our aims at achieving our goals in London at the 2012 Olympic Games.”

Track enthusiast
Track enthusiast

Your response is on the point Mark. Not in argument of the point but SASCOC must take note of the fact that we cannot afford to select top 3 in Africa because we miss the point. The African Championships is an opportunity for us to show where our true strengths lie and where we can strive to compete on the World Stage. Show me the African Championships where the performances have been at the level of the World Championships or Olympics and I will shave my head. We not asking for development we are asking for exposure for athletes that we know have the potential to return with good results and go on to excel at Commonwealth games and later Olympics. African Championships is where they should be given the opportunity to prove themselves. I use the Fredricks kid as an example and Hardus Pienaar as well. Two athletes that could have done well at Commonwealth but did not go. Two potential medals lost. Money is always a problems but you cannot judge swimming with athletics. Swimming only really has competition in Africa with no serious contenders in Africa. Swimming is not big in Africa but Athletics is. When you look at the bigger picture at Olympic Games Athletics has brought back medals more regularly than swimming. Once again this is not an argument with you Mark - its a point in terms of progress of the sport. We have plenty quality athletes that could have medalled.

Mark Etheridge
Mark Etheridge

Hi Trackie ... point taken indeed but we must also consider that the track and field team that finally took part at All Africa Games was a very different animal to that originally chosen. Caster Semenya,Sunette Viljoen,Lehann Fourie, Robert Oosthuizen Thuso Mpuang, Cornel Fredericks and Janet Lawless were all part of the original team but for one reason or another didn't take part in Maputo so I've no doubt it would have been a different story had they competed. Also, we did have a competitor in the pole vault, Eben Beukes, who was at the Games but his poles failed to arrive so he couldn't jump .. a pity because there were only two pole vaulters that jumped in the end! So had we had the original team at the Games we would have got a whole heap more medals ... on paper at least! :-)

Track enthusiast
Track enthusiast

Mark - your comment about more codes on offer in Algiers but are you forgetting that a code like athletics where we could have won more medals in events like Polevault where we are the best in Africa but we did not send people. The system of rating all sports the same way does not always work. A swimmer ranked in the 16th position can medal, so what if the difference between the 16th and 20th ranked swimmer is 0.05sec. Is that not the same potential. See how they left Cornel Fredericks and Luvoyo from Boland out of the Commonwealth Games and this year they are both 5th in the World but not good enough for Commonwealth Games. They would have been better if they competed at Commonwealth Games. Rankings don't always work. The fact is we did very well in the All African Games but Athletics lost its number 1 position. When we are looking for talent in future to send to 2016 Olympics we will wonder why we dont have athletes. It's because there is no international exposure for them - at least in the all africa games? without Africa a young boy like Hogan would not go from 62m to 68m. We saw how our young discus throwers and javelin throwers just improved by 10-11m in one competition. rankings are your biggest problem. Well done to SASCOC and Team SA in maputo. i hope theses commens will be taken in a positive light and not make anyone angry. Trackie