The world’s biggest sporting event, the Olympic Games, is finally here. Top athletes from around the globe have all gathered in London for what promises to be one of the most memorable Games in recent times. The much-anticipated event was officially opened at the glitzy ceremony on Friday night, where TuksAthlete Caster Semenya carried the flag for the South African team.
Of the 131 athletes that make up the South African team, 34 are from Tuks, including LJ van Zyl, Khotso Mokoena, Bridgitte Hartley and Oscar Pistorius.
With the South African Olympic Committee (SASCOC) having set a very ambitious target of 12 medals at the Games, the pressure will be on those who have been there and done it before, such as LJ van Zyl and Caster Semeya. The latter has been in poor form lately, struggling to reproduce the form that saw her win the 800m gold medal at the 2009 World Championships. Despite this, she remains confident of success in London. “Caster Semenya is a big-event type of athlete,” Semenya’s spokesman Tshepo Seema said in a statement on Wednesday. “Caster is focused on bringing glory and celebration to South Africa by dominating the 800m female challenge at the Olympics,” Seema said. Meanwhile, Van Zyl will be looking to replicate his silver medal at last year’s World Championships in the 4x400m relay alongside Ofentse Mogawane, Willem de Beer and Shaun de Jager.
From a global perspective, there is no doubt that the star attractions at the Games are 100m world-record holder Usain Bolt and American swimming sensation Michael Phelps. Phelps arrived in London last Wednesday and made it clear his goal was to leave as the most decorated Olympian of all time, having won eight gold medals in Beijing. “I’m [a] lot more laid back this time around, but I still have goals. I still want to win. There are things that I still want to do and that’s why I’m here,” he told the media upon his arrival. He, along with several other top athletes, chose to snub the opening ceremony in an attempt to conserve energy ahead of the Games. “I’d love to go but I have to race,” Phelps said. “They say you’re on your feet for about five hours and it can take a few days to recover so I can’t do it.”
Bolt will be aiming to do the seemingly impossible by breaking his 100m world record of 9.58 seconds. He is targeting what would be an unbelievable time of 9.40 seconds.
This weekend saw the archery, badminton, basketball, athletics, rowing and gymnastic events get underway, while both the men’s and women’s football events started two days before the opening ceremony. The tennis event, which is being held at the home of Wimbledon, the All England Club, also started this weekend with world number one Roger Federer in action. Other notable names that will be in action at the Games include American basketball superstar Lebron James, Brazilian football prodigy Neymar as well as Tour-de-France winner Bradley Wiggins.
The men’s 100m final will take place on Sunday at 20:50 while the women’s final takes place on Saturday at 20:55. You can catch Caster Semenya in action in the 800m heats starting on Wednesday at 10:30 with the final taking place on Saturday 11 August at 19:00. The Games are being broadcast on SuperSport so make sure you don’t miss any of the action.
See the complete list of TuksSport Olympians below or on your smartphone, ilincc Perdeby7413i.
The following TuksSport athletes and coaches have been selected to represent Team SA at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London:
AQUATICS Karin Prinsloo, Roland Schoeman, Suzaan van Biljon, Darren Murray and Igor Omeltchenko (coach)
ARCHERY Johan Steyn (manager/coach)
ATHLETICS Track and field: Caster Semenya, Willie de Beer, Lehann Fourie, Khotso Mokoena, Oscar Pistorius and LJ van Zyl. Kurt Couto (Mozambique) 50 km race walk: Marc Mundell Hennie Kotze (coach)
CANOEING Bridgitte Hartley
HOCKEY Women: Dirkie Chamberlain and Nicolene Terblanche Men: Rhett Halkett, Justin Reid-Ross and Jonathan Robinson
JUDO Jacques van Zyl and Nikola Filipov (manager/coach)
ROWING Men’s lightweight coxless four: Matthew Brittain, Lawrence Ndlovu, John Smith and James Thompson
Women’s pair: Lee-Ann Persse and Roger Barrow (manager/coach)
SHOOTING Alistair Davis
TRIATHLON Lindsey Parry (manager/coach)
MEDICAL Bafana Sihlali (Chief physiotherapist) Phathokuhle Cele (Medical doctor) Corli van der Walt (Mozambique: physiotherapist)