In the words of Sanka Coffie in Cool Runnings, I’m feeling very Olympic today. It started on Tuesday in Braamfontein, got a boost in at Olympic House in Melrose on Wednesday morning, took a little dip on Wednesday night before making me all giddy yesterday morning again.
Two Olympic launches in two days with the Cricket South Africa awards on Wednesday night, and then the realisation that there are just 50 more sleeps until the opening ceremony in London. SuperSport threw another exceptional launch on Tuesday, this time at the site of the Neighbourgoods market in Braamfontein to detail their coverage of the Games. Eight channels, a dedicated HD channel and more magazine programmes than you can shake a leg at. Neil Andrews worked former Olympic medallists on stage – Ryk Neethling, Josia Thugwane, who wore a snazzy white tie, Hawk Makepula, the boxer now turned pastor who was warned not to preach on stage but could not resist a quick hello to God, and Llewelyn Herbert, who doesn’t look much older than he did when he last competed in the Olympics.
Annette Cowley showed no bitterness at being one of the best South African swimmers to miss out on the chance to compete in the Olympics. She carries herself with a sense of grace that a few in the current Olympic team – not to mention a few politicians – would do well to take on.
On Wednesday Sascoc announced the first group of the South African team to travel to London. The deputy sports minister, Gert Oosthuizen, never a man afraid of making himself heard, stood up after the anthem had been sung, and demanded, in that National Party accent of his, that everyone should stand to attention during the anthem. Cue some confused looks as people tried to work out whom he was miffed with. “Have pride in the anthem!” he growled. No one knew why. But then few people know what the deputy sports minister actually does apart from survive in parliament and attend functions.
One day, perhaps, Oosthuizen will realise that South African sport is not about him. His bitching was quickly forgotten as the handful of athletes at the launch mingled and chatted. At 19 shooter Alastair Davis was incredibly confident for one who could well be the youngest South African at the Games. “I’ve dreamed of being an Olympian,” he said. Mike Mundell, the walker, echoed that: “It’s the greatest feeling ever. I’m an Olympian.” Daryl Impey, the sole road cyclist, said it was a “dream come true”. Austin Smith, the South African hockey team captain, will be attending his second Olympics, but the thrill is no less. “The Games are special for so many reasons, but mostly because you know that you will be competing at the highest level – that all the sacrifice has been worthwhile.”