Olympics: Team SA - keeping the spirit alive

Matshidiso Madia Matshidiso Madia


South Africa aims to bring home 12 gold medals. Below, is a tally of what Team SA has managed to achieve so far.

Gold medal tally  Gold medal tally  Gold medal tally  Silver medal  Caster Semenya's silver medal  bronze medal

The London Olympics came to an end on the 13th of August in what many have dubbed to be a raucous spectacle of British pop culture. TeamSA which won 6 medals in the tournament was ranked 24th, thus becoming the top ranking African team at the Olympics. TeamSA returns home on Tuesday the 14th of August.

Silver medalist Caster Semenya

True to her character Caster Semenya grabbing the silver medal in the women’s 800m race wasn’t without controversy. While she reached her personal best time, it seems some South Africans aren’t satisfied with second place, sparking debate from different sectors of the country about her efforts.

9 August 2012

South African women came under the spotlight at the Olympics on national Women’s Day, with Bridgitte Hartley becoming the first South African woman to win a medal. She won the bronze medal for kayaking.

More good news came with record-breaking athlete Caster Semenya’s stellar performance and qualification for the women’s 800 metre final.

Unfortunately all the hopes pinned on Sunette Viljoen, failed to materialise when the world’s number three ranked javelin thrower came fourth in the final.

20-year-old Anaso Jobodwana’s skills on the track were also no match for Jamaica’s top three in the men’s 200m race.

Bridgitte Hartley collage

O.R. Tambo International Airport was packed to capacity on Thursday the 9th of August as South Africans from all walks of life gathered to welcome back South Africa's 'golden boys' Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh. 

“I woke up on the plane this morning and was turning on my phone and I had to put my pin number in", said van der Burgh. "That's when I realised that since the age of 10 I've been using 2012 as my pin number. But now that I've won gold in the 2012 Olympics, I've achieved that goal and, for the first time in 14 years”, I'll have to change my pin.”

Chad le clos and Cameron van der Burgh arrive home.

3 August 2012

Chad le Clos won a silver medal in the 100m butterfly at the Olympics games, his childhood hero Michael Phelps took first place.

"I'm pleased with the silver medal. I never expected that," le Clos said.

"After the 200m gold everything came into place and I just felt I had a lot of confidence. Obviously I wanted to win the race, but I am not disappointed at all. I am happy."

Le Clos finished joint second with Russia's Evgeny Korotyshkin in a time of 51.44. 

Chad le clos wins silver

2 August 2012

Rowing collage

31 July 2012

South Africa's second 'golden boy', Chad le Clos, stunned the world when he beat Olympics darling Michael Phelps in the 200m butterfly race. 

He touched the pool wall at 1:52.96, while the world swimming great touched at 1:53.01 in a packed Aquatics Centre.

The twenty-year-old Durbanite was extremely emotional, when he accepted his gold medal and as the South African National Anthem played. 

When asked how it felt to beat the swimming great, he said: "Just swimming next to him was an honour".

Clad le clos collage. Pictures: SA Sports Picture Agency and AFP. 

Pictures of Chad by SA Sports Picture Agency & AFP.

30 July 2012

Cameron van der Burgh dominated headlines as he claimed Team SA’s first medal. He took gold in the 100 meter breaststroke final and set a new world record.

Unfortunately most of the country’s participants didn’t do as well. Banyana Banyana lost against Canada and as a result have pretty much crashed out of the competition.

South Africa’s Womens hockey team lost 7-1 to Argentina and Chad Le Clos - one of the top medal hopefuls, failed to win secure a place in the top three in the men’s 400m individual medley over the weekend. 

All eyes will be on Caster Semenya and Oscar Pistorius who will be competing in the next week or so.

Cameron vd Burgh and Karen Ann Hultzer. Picture: Wessel Oosthuizen/SA Sport Pictures Agency.

25 July 2012

Banyana Banyana played against Sweden in the Olympics on 25 July 2012. Picture: Wessel Oosthuizen/SA Sports Picture Agency.

Although the Olympics officially kick off on the 27th of July 2012, games have already started and true to many critics’ views on the South African female football squad, they lost 4 - 1 in their first game against Sweden.

Although the team upped its game in the second half, their efforts were no match for the fourth best side in the footballing world. 

London Olympics 2012 - Team SA's Hopes 

Team SA has taken the spirit of South Africa with them to the 2012 Olympics in London, with athletes, coaches and support staff settling into the multibillion pounds Olympic Village and others training from the day of their arrival in the UK.

Patience Shikwambana, the group’s Chef De Mission, says they’re carrying the spirit of Ubuntu, the country’s love as well as the festivities from their farewell banquet with them. 

“The team’s still in such high spirits and they are positive,” she says.

The Olympic Village

Shikwambana also says they have started exploring and socialising with the different cultures and teams around them.

Their favourite thing though, seems to be the village’s main diningrooms, where spreads from across the globe have been made available. There are African, Jamaican and Asian eateries, with the familiar popular fast food outlets, such as McDonalds, making the athletes feel more at home.

Team SA hasn’t had too many chances to prove their mettle.

In 1964 South Africa was banned from participating in the Olympics over its refusal to condemn apartheid. That ban was lifted in 1992 following the start of negotiations to end apartheid in the country.

As a result South Africa has only managed to take home 70 medals over the years.     



Summary of South Africa's Olympic and Paralympic Games Appearances

Medals per sport:

Cycling - Road
Cycling - Track
Medals per year:


Olympics background

Team SA 2012


Made up of 20 participants, Team SA’s swimming squad carries the most expectations. Some of the team’s stars include Cameron van der Burgh, who was the world swim champ and record holder in 2009, as well as Roland Schoeman who was part of the 2004 winning swim team in Beijing 

Track and field

Although made up of fewer medal hopefuls, many members of Team SA’s track and field squad have managed to catch the attention of the sporting world and the average Joe. Their abilities on the track and their personal characteristics have helped to thrust them into the media spotlight. 

People to look out for include 800 meter champ Caster Semenya, Beijing Olympics silver medalist Khotso Mokoena, Sunnette Viljoen who’s currently the world’s number one Javelin thrower and African and Commonwealth Record holder.

Oscar Pistorius, the darling of the athletics community, will be the first double amputee to feature in the summer games.


South Africa has pinned its hopes on Sfiso Nhlapo, who was a finalist in the 2008 Olympics, to win the BMX division. Hopes are also high that Burry Stander will grab the gold medal in the Mountain Bike challenge - he won the ABSA Cape Epic in 2011


Although the country’s hockey teams made a few ripples in an otherwise obvious category during their Olympic campaign, the chance of both the female and male squads bringing home medals are not too high, especially because they have been grouped with some tough teams. 


The squad that was formed in 1993 is seen has having very slim chances, especially because their world rankings are so far down the standings.

Horse Racing

Not normally at the center of everyone’s attention, the battle between Alex Peternell and Paul Hart to represent South Africa has put the equestrian division in the spotlight. At some point it looked like the country would not have a representative, but following a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Peternell who’s believed to be the best candidate, will be representing South Africa in London. 

Other sports were South Africans will be participating include; Aquatics, archery, badminton boxing, canoeing, judo, rowing, sailing, shooting, volleyball and weightlifting.