By Andrew Webster and Andiswe Makinana

Cape Town will be well represented in the South African team to the Olympic Games in Athens later this year.

Of the 58 names of athletes announced by the National Olympic Committee so far, almost a quarter - 13 - are Capetonians.

Nine hockey players from both the men's and women's hockey teams are from the city, the sole South African sailor at the Games, Gareth Blanckenberg, is from Marina da Gama, Karl Thaning of Pinelands is part of the swimming team and two badminton players, Michelle Edwards and Dorian James are Capetonians.

Edwards is a teacher at Wynberg Girls High while James is from Retreat.

James said the South African badminton players had been competing overseas to boost their rankings.

"We were still overwhelmed when our names were called up," said James of the latest announcements of South African members.

The South African badminton team is ranked 52nd in the world.

Other Capetonians are hockey players Iain Evans, Bruce Jacobs, Jody Paul, Eric Rose-Innes, Wayne Denne, Kerry Bee, Kate Hector, Johke Koornhof and Anli Kotze.

Blanckenberg, who will be going to his second Olympics, is one of the best medal prospects in the South African team.

The dinghy sailor is ranked fifth in the world in the Laser class, a single-handed dinghy.

Four years ago, at the Sydney Olympics, the 24-year-old finished a respectable ninth position in his class of yacht.

This time a place on the podium is a real possibility for the Imperial Yacht Club member.

He said: "The Olympics are the pinnacle of any sportsperson's career and I'm no different."

He said the experience of 2000 would help this time round. "I know what to expect. I think it will be easier to concentrate on my sailing and not be overwhelmed by it all," he said.

The weather is always a major influence on sailing but the Olympic championship is set over a dozen races and he believes this will give him a chance of a medal.

"Over 12 stages people are bound to make mistakes, so it is up to me to capitalise. "I think I have a real chance of a medal because consistency is one of my main strengths," he said.

Blanckenberg, who started sailing at the age of nine is part of the National Olympic Committee's Operation Excellence programme and has every reason to feel confident having recently returned from the Dutch SPA Regatta in Medemblik where he finished third.

The former Wynberg Boys High School pupil has been a full-time sailor for six years after becoming the first South African in history to win the World Youth Championships, held in Simon's Town in 1998.

Since then he has spent extensive time training all over the world, especially in Europe where he has competed in the summer regatta circuits.

Chairman of the South African Laser Association Ron Keytel said: "Gareth is most certainly a medal prospect in Athens."