Rio, Here We Come!

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On 14 July SASCOC announced the final Team South Africa squad for the 2016 Olympic Games to be held from 5-21 August in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, with 137 competitors set to travel to Rio, and once again the individual sporting code with the biggest presence in Team SA, other than team sports such as football, is athletics, with 39 athletes going to the Games. – BY SEAN FALCONER

The SA athletics team for Rio features an exciting mix of highly experienced athletes with Olympic, Commonwealth Games and World Champs experience, such as Caster SemenyaLJ van ZylWayde van NiekerkSunette Viljoen and Khotso Mokoena, alongside up-and-coming athletes hungry to prove themselves on the biggest athletics stage, including high school sprinting prodigies Tlotliso Leotlela and Clarence Munyai.

Four other athletes in the team – CasterWaydeWenda Nel and Stephen Mokoka –all qualified for more than one event, but will only concentrate on their speciality event. In terms of strong medal contenders, all eyes will be on Caster in the women’s 800m, as she broke the SA record and ran the fastest time in the world for the year in mid-July, while Wayde is reigning World Champ over 400m and looks to be in scintillating form, having run world class times (and Olympic qualifiers) from 100m to 400m in recent months.

In the field events, Sunette Viljoen is always in contention for a podium finish in the women’s javelin, and there are high hopes of a medal in triathlon from Richard Murray, who appears to have returned strongly from a recently broken shoulder bone.

Other events where South Africa traditionally does well include the men’s 400m hurdles and long jump, but all of our athletes have the potential to medal if they perform well in Rio.

The full teams for athletics and triathlon are:

ATHLETICS

Women:Carina Horn, Alyssa Conley, Tsholofelo Thipe, Justine Palframan, Caster Semenya, Wenda Nel, Dominique Scott, Lynique Prinsloo, Sunette Viljoen, Anel Oosthuizen

Women’s marathon:Irvette Van Zyl, Christine Kalmer, Lebo Phalula

Men:Akani Simbine, Henricho Bruintjies, Tlotliso Leotlela, Clarence Munyai, Anaso Jobodwana, Wayde van Niekerk, Jacob Rozani, Rynhardt van Rensburg, Elroy Gelant, Stephen Mokoka, Antonio Alkana, Lindsay Hanekom, Louis (LJ) van Zyl, Le Roux Hamman, Ruswahl Samaai, Luvo Manyonga, Stefan Brits, Khotso Mokoena, Rocco van Rooyen, Willem Coertzen, Lebogang Shange, Wayne Snyman, Marc Mundell

Men’s marathon:Lusapho April, Sibusiso Mzima, Lungile Gongqa

Managers/Coaches:Irma Reyneke, Paul Gorries, Terseus Liebenberg, Maryna van Niekerk, Pieter Lourens and James Moloi

TRIATHLON

Women:Gillian Sanders, Mari Rabie

Men:Richard Murray, Henri Schoeman

Manager/Coach:Kate Roberts, Lindsey Parry

In good news for the athletes and coaches going to Rio, SASCOC announced an incentive programme for the Games that will see medallists and their coaches receive a healthy pay-out as reward for their efforts, with 80% of the money going to the athlete and 20% to the coach.

So, an individual gold medallist will pocket R400,000 and the coach R100,000, a silver medallist will take home R200,000 and the coach R50,000, while a bronze medallist will earn R80,000 and the coach R20,000. The same amounts will be paid to any teams that earn medals at the Games, including relay teams, with 80% to be split equally amongst all team members, and 20% to be paid out to the head coach of that sport or event.

After the team announcement, SASCOC refuted the erroneous reports in some media that athletes travelling to Rio would have to pay their own way, or at least pay much of their own travelling costs. A SASCOC statement said that all athletes travelling with Team SA would depart on 23 July on a SAA flight to Brazil, and that no athletes would be paying for their flights.

Athletes could still choose to fly at another time, in which case their flights would be paid for by their sporting federation, which in turn would be reimbursed by SASCOC. After that, any athletes who booked their own flights would be reimbursed R12,000, up from the R10,000 paid out for the 2012 London Olympics.

“The reports in the media implying that all athletes have to pay for their flights are a complete distortion of the facts, and athletes have been fully briefed on this matter by their respective Federations,” said SASCOC Chief Executive Tubby Reddy in the statement.

Modern Athlete would like to wish all of our South African athletes the best for the Rio Olympics. We will be watching your progress and cheering you on from across the Atlantic Ocean, hoping you bring back the medals that your efforts deserve!

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