Members of Team SA who competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Picture: Antoine de Ras

Caster Semenya's 800m triumph on the penultimate evening of the Rio Olympics topped a sterling performance by Team South Africa – the best medals haul since readmission.

South Africa placed 30th on the medals table, proudly holding up two golds, six silvers and two bronzes. More than 200 countries participated, only 78 accomplished podium finishes.

Our headliners were the golden contestants, 400m ace Wayde van Niekerk and Semenya. Both trounced their fields and took their places in history with electric spurts on the home straight.

They had the right stuff at the right time, running perfect races. Van Niekerk's bonus was that he became the best ever, beating a 17-year-old world record.

Javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen won silver. The 32-year-old deserved a gold for tenacity, though, at long last crowning four Olympics with a medal. She will long be a role model for coaches as they lecture their athletes on spirit, determination and dedication.

Another shining example of perseverance was Semenya, who knew that the gold would come at an unwelcome price.

Long jumper Luvo Manyonga's silver was a delightful surprise, a sliver away from gold, as was the triathlon bronze of Durbanite Henri Schoeman. Both gave their all.

Our 100m sprinter, Akani Simbine, placed fifth – a mere 0.03 seconds off a medal.

The memories go on, Durban's Chad le Clos and Johannesburg's Cameron van der Burgh creating special interest in Team SA in Rio 2016. The fantastic final flourish of swimming great Michael Phelps, 31, tells us that we will be watching these two again, and rooting for them.

Team SA's overall effort and results would have inspired aspirants from all backgrounds. Our performance at Rio 2016 assured them that talent and discipline will be seen and nurtured, even if it starts in the dusts of nowhere.

Our medal count proclaimed that one can conquer lowly beginnings and personal setbacks, like drug addiction, even cancer, to become the best. Bravo, Team SA.