South Africa will take part in 16 different sporting codes at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast in April.
The team that will represent South Africa at the Games was announced on Tuesday morning at an event attended by Sports Minister Thulas Nxesi and SASCOC President Gideon Sam at Olympic House in Johannesburg.
In addition to the individual athletes who will participate in the 2018 Commonwealth Games down under, South Africa will send teams in rugby sevens, hockey, netball, triathlon and track cycling, to name a few.
In the individual categories, a lot is expected from the likes of sprinter Akani Simbine, long jumper Luvo Manyonga and Chad le Clos in swimming.
SASCOC has faith in the team named to represent the country at the Gold Coast event.
Simbine is optimistic about the future, after spending time with the retired charismatic sprint sensation, Usain Bolt, in Roodepoort on Monday evening.
Simbine says “We were talking about a lot that regards to track and personal life and with regards to track and everything that is happening in athletics life. We spoke about how he sees potential in me and that I have great talent. Telling me that I just need to believe in myself and have confidence now that we are going to a competition.”
SASCOC is hoping South Africa will finish at least 5th on the medals table.
The Rugby Sevens and gymnastics squad are still to be finalised, but the final team will comprise over 180 athletes.
The men’s sevens rugby team will only be named at the end of February.
Sam says he has high expectations from events such as swimming and bowls, and especially athletics.
He says “We are confident that if you look at where we need to bring in the medals, that is gold medals, you are looking at your athletics, swimming, bowls, wrestling, because a team sport can give you one, rugby can give you one. Therefore, when we appeal to them to give us their best performances, it’s precisely because of that, because we need to move up.”
There have been boardroom problems engulfing SASCOC recently.
But Sam says they are not having a bad effect on the team’s preparations leading to the games.
“Not for the preparations, only on the name, the brand of SASCOC. Brand SASCOC has suffered, you get a dent if you are always in the front page, you just think about all this organisations that are appearing before committees, being asked questions, it does dent your image but we will overcome that.”
Sports Minister Thulas Nxesi says, “They must just go there, enjoy themselves and represent the country and they must know that it’s not about themselves, it’s about the flag they are carrying, the flag of the country. We will be there to support them and we congratulate them for the hard work and commitment that made them to be selected, hoping that they are going to do the best.”
There has been some controversy about the quality of the team uniforms at some recent international events.
Sam has confirmed that those baggy uniforms are a thing of the past. The Games will take place from April 4-15.