Most successful Olympics for SA: Mbalula

Monday, August 13, 2012

Johannesburg - Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula says the 2012 London Olympic Games were the most successful ever for South Africa.

"This Olympics have definitely been our most successful Olympics ever with the six medals we have won. Though in quantitative terms we did not achieve the 12 medals target set by SASCOC. But, the three gold medals achieved by our athletes is a resounding success in quantitative terms and we should embrace, treasure and cherish them.

"No more banging our heads against the wall. We have achieved, in addition to the gold medals, two silver medals and one bronze," said Mbalula on Monday in Rosebank, briefing reporters on Team SA and its achievement at the London Olympics.

The minister said he was very satisfied all round with the performance of the South African Olympians who represented the country with pride and absolute commitment.

"We are satisfied that the team gave it their all and we want to congratulate SASCOC under the leadership of Gideon Sam on a job well done and for bringing pride to our nation.

"This has been undoubtedly our best Olympics ever and we can only do better at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

"We want to congratulate all our athletes for their single minded focus and effort during the Olympics. The collective performance of our team has showcased the determination of all our people to succeed no matter what the challenges we face as people," he said.

Mbalula said the London Olympics had laid the basis for the country's march forward towards the next Olympics in Rio in 2016.

"We are confident that the lessons learnt and the results achieved will propel us to greater heights going forward."

He said the National Sport and Recreation Plan, with the School Sport Programme as its bedrock, would ensure that much more sporting talent was identified and developed, which would make the country more competitive in future international sporting events.

Mbalula further urged South Africans to congregate at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday morning to give Team SA a heroes' welcome from the London Olympics.

Team SA has six medals, equalling the amount of gold medals (three) of Atlanta in 1996, but improving the total medal tally by one.

The three South African gold medals came from swimming sensations, Cameron van der Burgh and Chad Le Clos, and the rowing team comprising Sizwe Ndlovu, Matthew Brittain, James Thompson and John Smith.

The two silver medals came from South Africa's flag bearer, Caster Semenya and Le Clos, while Bridgette Hartley won bronze.

The team also won six medals in Athens eight years ago but only one of those (the men's 4x100m freestyle relay) was gold.

South Africa has finished as the leading African nation at the 2012 London Olympic Games in 24th position on the final medals table.

Team SA's medal tally put the country just ahead of Ethiopia, who ended in 25th position with three gold, one silver and three bronze medals.