FORGET not getting 12 medals. Forget the disappointments. Forget the failures. Forget the withdrawals and last-place finishes. Those are all part of sport and the risks of competing in the biggest sporting event in the world.
Team South Africa returns from the Olympics deserving as much credit and honour as the World Cup winning rugby teams of 1995 and 2007 and the 1996 African Cup of Nations football squad.
Three gold medals, two silver and one bronze for a total of six medals makes this the most successful team since South Africa’s return to international sport. And that is only half the story.
To fully understand the scale of what Team South Africa achieved at London 2012 we need to remember where our Olympics athletes were four years ago, when Khotso Mokoena was the only Olympic medallist in Beijing.
Following the 2008 disaster, Sascoc has to take credit for stepping in and coming up with a plan. They took some unpopular decisions and the ramifications of those will continue to cause bitterness among some athletes who missed the flight to the UK just over two weeks ago.
The decision not to give any free trips meant those who wanted to compete in London 2012 had to put in that extra little bit of effort, and the rewards are there for all to see, particularly among the younger athletes.
There will never be one rule that works for all and Sascoc’s plan is not perfect, but it has changed a failure into one of the most successful South African teams ever – and certainly the most successful in the “professional” era.
But there is no time to rest on the gold medals. Sascoc must now start looking toward Rio in four years time and even further ahead to 2020.
They must use the massive positive energy these record breaking medallists have created and secure sponsors and funding to give the Team South Africa 2016 the support and financing they need to be even more successful.
In the meantime our medallists – Chad le Clos, Cameron van der Burgh, Caster Semenya, Bridgitte Hartley and the “oarsome foursome” rowers deserve a special Olympic salute from all of us.