5 AUGUST 2016
Led by South African track and field sprinter, Commonwealth Games silver medallist and first time Olympian, Wayde van Niekerk, Team South Africa joined roughly 207 nations at Friday night’s opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games here in Brazil. On a beautiful and joyous day which saw the city of Rio come to a stand still, South Africa were the third team into the impressive Maracana stadium.
Greece where the ancient Olympic Games were inaugurated was the first country to march into the big stadium and was greeted by a loud and happy crowd. This was followed by Afghanistan. The crowd was entertained by well-choreographed local Brazilian samba dances. Saturday sees the battle for medals commence with South African teams competing in cycling, gymnastics, rowing, swimming and football.
Again we wish the team well. Let the games begin!
Louis Meintjes and Daryl Impey kickstart Team South Africa’s individual Olympic campaign when they take to the roads – and hills – around Rio on Saturday in the men’s cycling road race. Both competed in the Tour de France and Meintjes rode out of his skin to finish eighth overall in the torturous three-week event, and Saturday’s 260km course should suit him as he and Impey carry the flag.
‘Daryl and I know each other quite well so we’ll know what to do. We just have to make sure we’re always in the race and then can decide what to do from there,’ he said. ‘A lot will depend on the pace … whether it’s slow and controlled or whether the guys drill it up the hills. The latter sort of race would suit me more.’
Favourite for the race is Alejandro Valverde, while Vincenzo Nibali, Chris Froome, Julian Alaphilippe and Dan Martin must be considered live medallists with the South Africans needing everything to go their way on the day.
The 23-year-old Michael Meyer will be the first swimmer to take to the water when he sets off in the second of four heats in the men’s 400m Individual Medley at the Olympics Aquatics stadium. With a qualifying time of 4min 15.71sec, he is unlikely to reach the evening’s final, but Sebastien Rousseau, who has a 4:14.75 entry has a puncher’s chance, but will need luck on his side. Only eight swimmers of the 24 entered will go through to the final.
Survivor Brittain’s a winner before he even races in Rio
No matter what happens in the heats of the men’s pair rowing at the Olympic Games in Rio on Saturday, Lawrence Brittain will be a winner. The most important goal in the Olympic Games should be not to win but to take part, just as the most important goal in life should be not the triumph but the struggle. The essential objective is not to have conquered but to have fought well.
Brittain’s attitude truly symbolises what the Olympic Spirit is all about. At the beginning of last year there was absolutely no guarantee that the Tuks/HPC rower would be able to compete at the highest level ever again as he’d just recovered from Hodgkin’s Disease (cancer of the lymph nodes).
But quitting is not a word in Brittain’s vocabulary. He was never going to forgo his dream to become an Olympian by allowing himself to become a ‘victim’. Because of Brittain’s never-say-die attitude the proud rowing tradition of his family is continuing without being interrupted.
In 2012 Matthew Brittain was a member of the ‘awesome foursome’ team that won a gold medal at the Olympic Games in London. Dad, David, just missed out on qualifying for the 1996 Games in Atlanta and mom, Danielle, is a team doctor for the national rowing squad. And there may be more to come. The two younger Brittain brothers, Charles and James, are also avid rowers.
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Source – SASCOC