Sascoc could be facing a financial crisis – and they could not be happier.
After Team South Africa’s golden start to the London 2012 Olympics, Sascoc are looking at some hefty payouts, but the more they are forced toward bankruptcy the more they will be laughing all the way from the bank.
As the team’s Chef de Mission Patience Shikwambama light-heartedly said this week, “I hope we get to the point where we have to go to the bank and take out a loan to pay all the incentives”.
Swimming is the star of the show and Sascoc has had to fork out R600 000 to Chad le Clos for his gold in the 200m butterfly and silver in the shorter 100m race, and R400 000 to Cameron van der Burgh for his 100m breaststroke win a week ago.
On Thursday a slightly less expected win came from the lightweight men’s four rowing team when they earned a third gold for South Africa.
Not surprisingly these medal winners have garnered all the interest, but what about the rest of the athletes in action over the first week.
For some it has been a tough introduction to sport at the highest level, and others have said goodbye to the international sporting arena with mixed results. Here is a sport-by-sport guide to how South Africa performed on week one of the London 2012 Olympic Games (in order of appearance).
Banyana Banyana looked out of their depth in their opening two matches against Sweden and Canada with 4-1 and 3-0 losses, but showed, with a gutsy 0-0 draw against World Champions Japan, that they could compete at this level.
Karen Hultzer started her qualifying well and was in the top 20 for a while, but the oldest member of the South African team could not hold her place among the elite and ended up 46th. That earned her a meeting with 19th ranked Pia Lionetti from Italy when Hultzer went down 2-6.
What more can be said other than a golden performance from the men’s lightweight four of Matthew Brittain, Lawrence Sizwe Ndlovu, John Smith and James Thompson. They were simply brilliant and fully deserve the accolades. The women’s pair ended second in the B final, which was also impressive.
Daryl Impey was always going to struggle without any team support and the lone South African finished in the main bunch, while the women’s trio were never really in contention. Ashleigh Moolman was last in the time trial and with 20/20 hindsight CSA, needs to ask themselves if strong sprinter and time-trial specialist Cherise Taylor should not have been included in the team.
Without doubt the poster boys of Team South Africa. Le Clos with a gold and silver in the two butterfly events and Van der Burgh in the 100m breaststroke overshadowed their teammates, but there were a few other impressive performances. Most notable was veteran Roland Schoeman who lost out on a medal by less than half a second in the 50m freestyle and Suzaan van Biljon who reached the final in her 200m breaststroke. South Africa was, surprisingly, never in contention in the relays, despite reaching the final of the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle events. Probably the biggest disappointment was for Gideon Louw, who missed out by just five hundredths of a second from reaching the 100m freestyle final.
Both the men’s and women’s doubles pairing went back home without winning a match on court, but there were two hollow victories in the record books. After losing their third pool match, Michelle Edwards and Annari Viljoen were contemplating the trip home when they were told they had been pushed into the quarter-finals after two other pairs in their group farcically tried to both lose their match in an effort to manipulate the draw. Both were disqualified and all their results were turned to 21-0 21-0 losses, giving the South African pair a tournament record of played 4, won 2, lost 2.
Bantamweight Ayabonga Sonjica was beaten in his first round clash, while welterweight Siphiwe Lusizi was ousted in the second round after a solid victory in round one. The heavier fighter certainly did his reputation no harm but was clearly outclassed at this level and highlights the need for international competition for those selected for the Olympic team.
Another case of a full house of losses, but Freedom Chiya and Grant Goldschmidt improved with each match and came desperately close to taking a set off the highly-rated Polish crew of Mariuz Prudel and Grzegorz Fijalek.
Both the men’s and women’s teams have struggled at this tournament.
The women have been particularly disappointing but only because so much was expected of them after their impressive build up to the tournament. With only one point between the two teams, the Olympics would have to go down as something of a failure for hockey in general, but the reality is that both teams are ranked at the bottom of their groups and victories were always going to be difficult in this top-level tournament.
Gideon van Zyl did not have much of a chance to experience the Olympic competition, getting beaten in his first bout by an ippon (match winning throw) just 30 seconds from the end of the fight while he was ahead.
South Africa’s participation in the eventing competition was the subject of controversy before it started, with Alex Peternell shoehorned into the team at the expense of Paul Hart following a CAS hearing. Unfortunately the lack of preparation showed and, despite finishing the competition, Peternell was always near the bottom of the finishers in all three disciplines.
Young Alistair David finished an impressive 15th in his double trap event. The baby-faced 19-year-old was not out of his depth in his Olympic debut against much older and more experienced competitors and must be a prospect for Rio in 2016.
Things have not being going well for Asenathi Jim and Roger Hudson, who have consistently been placed near or at the back of the 27-boat fleet and they are unlikely to be able to pull out of the bottom few positions before the end of the regatta.