WEDNESDAY marks 100 days to the opening of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 5.
So far, Team SA remains on track to achieve its best medal haul since readmission in 1992 — the six gongs (three of them gold) at London 2012.
SA has more than 20 medal hopes, although it is critical that they be fit and in form come the Games.
More contenders generally means more medals.
Myles Brown at SA Olympic Qualifiers Durban – Picture – Heslop Sports
Possible repeat medallists:
Chad le Clos: This time he is eyeing at least three individual medals, adding to the two he won four years ago in the 100m and 200m butterfly. Le Clos is also targeting the 200m freestyle in Rio. With Michael Phelps coming back at him, he can expect a torrid time.
Cameron van der Burgh: The 100m breaststroke Olympic champion has stayed in the top three in the world since London. He’s added the 200m breaststroke to his repertoire, although he says he’s targeting only the final.
Caster Semenya: The 800m silver medallist from 2012 is running into superb form.
James Thompson and John Smith: Both part of rowing’s golden fours crew last time. Since teaming up in the lightweight double sculls, they’ve won the world champs.
Bridgitte Hartley: The kayaking bronze medallist in 2012 admits she’s an underdog, but says she prefers it that way.
Khotso Mokoena: Silver medallist in the long jump at the 2008 Games; he will surely need a personal best to get a triple jump medal.
Wayde van Niekerk: The 400m world champion started the season by breaking the 10-second barrier in the 100m. What other outrageous tricks does he have up his sleeve?
Rugby sevens team: The Blitzboks have a good chance of a medal, but given how they’ve struggled to get over the line in the world sevens series after getting into semifinals and finals, it’s not going to be a walk in the park.
Christopher Reid: The backstroker came from nowhere to post times that would have got him into the 100m final at London 2012. He reckons he can go even faster.
Men’s 4x100m medley relay team: Reid, Van der Burgh and Le Clos are a potent combination. Find a fast enough freestyler and there could be gold.
Ursula Grobler and Kirsten McCann: Won bronze at last year’s rowing world championships in the women’s lightweight double sculls.
Men’s 4x200m freestyle relay team: Le Clos is again the star here, and if Myles Brown, Sebastien Rousseau and Calvyn Justus pull their weight, they could find the podium.
Men’s long jump: Ruswahl Samaai, Luvo Manyonga, and Zarck Visser have the potential to deliver. Imagine two!
Shaun Keeling and Lawrence Brittain: These rowers could repeat the men’s heavyweight pairs success of Ramon Di Clemente and Don Cech at Athens 2004.
Men’s 4x100m relay: Assuming SA’s athletics administrators can actually co-ordinate the team’s qualification for Rio, SA’s four fastest sprinters can get close to a medal.
Golf: The men have a decent chance, assuming Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel do not follow Louis Oosthuizen’s lead and make themselves unavailable for selection.
Lebogang Shange: The dark horse of the team, this race walker has improved in leaps and bounds. Do not write him off.
Still to perform this season:
Anaso Jobodwana: The 200m bronze medallist at last year’s world championships has yet to compete.Richard Murray: A broken collarbone has put the triathlete’s training on hold for at least six weeks.
Sunette Viljoen: The javelin star has yet to find form.
Cornel Fredericks: The No2 400m hurdler in the world in 2014, injured last year. Must still produce a top time.
by David Isaacson