FINAL MEDAL TABLE
Curtain comes down on ‘unforgettable Games’
Photo Credits – Simon Heslop
The curtain came down on Team South Africa’s Olympic Games campaign here in Rio on Sunday.
The Closing Ceremony saw athletes and team officials parade and enjoy the last moments together. Despite the soaking weather, everyone seemed to enjoy the last of the Brazilian vibe as the stadium was packed with crowds clapping and enjoying the moment.
This brings to the end, the 2016 Olympics Games and Team SA would like to express their great appreciation to all the stakeholders who made the games a success.
Once again congratulations to all our athletes especially the medallists.
How Team SA fared on the final day of Olympics
South Africa had competitors in action in just two codes on Sunday (21 August), the final day of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Here is how they fared.
Men’s marathon, Lusapho April ended 24th (2hr 15min 24sec), Sibusiso Nzima
97th in 2:25:33 and Lungile Gongqa failed to finish
In a nutshell: The South African trio will not be happy with their performances. All were well off their personal bests although, April, who spent some time in Rio acclimatising to conditions, was well-placed in the lead bunch until the business end of the race. He went on to be 6:40 off the pace as fellow African, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya won in 2:08.44.
Men’s mountain bike (cross-country), James Reid was given a -3lap finish classification and Alan Hatherly ended 26th
In a nutshell: Reid was clearly not 100% after a crash in training but Hatherly can hold his head high as he ended 8min 35sec off the winning time posted by super Swiss rider Nino Schurter. Hatherly is still a relative baby at this level and still rising through the ranks after representing South Africa at the African Youth Games in Botswana two years ago and winning gold. He’s only 20 years old… none of the top 10 finishers in Rio were that young and in fact eight of the top 10 were aged 25 or older. His time will come.
Team SA: The ‘awards’ review
As the curtain on the 2016 Rio Olympics comes down, GARY LEMKE gives his verdict on South Africa as they return with their best Olympics haul since isolation and equalling the 10 medals from Antwerp (1920) and Helsinki (1952).
The Top 10 performers
Wayde van Niekerk (400m): You don’t upstage Usain Bolt on a night he is running an Olympic From Beijing 2008 to London 2012 to Rio 2016, the great Jamaican has been the show-stopper, winning unprecedented 100/200/4x100m sprint trebles. But on the evening he took in some sightseeing on his way to another 100m gold, Van Niekerk stole the man’s thunder in the 400m. The South African had found himself isolated in lane eight, and while he was a gold medal favourite in the eyes of many, what no-one foresaw was that he’d lower Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old world record. Van Niekerk catapulted out of the blocks and led the field a merry dance, but the race really started coming off the final bend with 100m to go. Suddenly, Van Niekerk found another gear, drawing away from the chasers that included Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt. Bolt, watching in the ready room, could hardly believe what he was seeing. Van Niekerk stopped the clock in 43.03sec – and looked like he had more in the tank had he been challenged. The world has found Bolt’s successor.
2 Caster Semenya (800m)
She came to Rio as one of the hottest favourites in these Olympics, but against the backdrop of debate as to whether or not her gender ‘status’ and ‘history’ made it fair to allow her to run against women. Semenya however, is not the naive 18- year-old she was when winning the world title in 2009. She is now a woman at peace with herself and the world and she came to Rio to run. And run for that gold medal. Nothing else mattered. Going through the heat and the semi-final she reiterated that it was gold she was looking for, not medals. Semenya took everything in her stride and did what she had come to do. It was no surprise that she won South Africa’s second gold medal, but she conducted herself with class and dignity, on and off the track.
3 Akani Simbine (100m)
You might wonder what a non-medallist is doing so high on the list. Well, Simbine stands on the brink of huge things. It was only in Slovenia last July that the 22- year-old broke 10 seconds for the first time, being the second South African to achieve the feat. He has now lowered the national record to 9.89 and finished fifth in the Olympic final in Rio, clocking 9.94, after a 9.98 in the semi-final. In the space of a year he has now gone under 10 seconds six times. Simbine was right on the heels of the medallists in that final in Rio. Usain Bolt cantered home in 9.81, who Justin Gatlin won silver in 9.89. Canada’s Andre de Grasse claimed bronze in
9.91 and Yohan Blake was fourth in 9.93, Simbine was three-hundredths of a second off the bronze medal. Consider that Bolt, Gatlin and Blake won’t be at Tokyo 2020 and you can see that Simbine is dining at the top table of the blue riband 100m sprint. It’s a mouth-watering prospect. Plus, Athletics SA should have selected him for the 200m. He would have won a medal in Rio.
Team South Africa head home having notched up their best medal-return since re- admission to the Olympics in Barcelona 1992. They won 10 medals (two gold, six silver and two bronze) to place 28th on the final medals table as the United States ran away at the top with 119, almost double the tally off second-placed Great Britain (66). ME
LAST DAY’S RESULTS – 21 AUGUST