A second-string national team settled for third place in the final standings on Saturday, after struggling to stand up against stronger squads from some of the continent’s other sporting giants at the African Games in Rabat.
With the majority of the country’s elite stars missing from the team, while focussing their attention on more prestigious global championships in their various codes, the SA squad ended their campaign with a total of 87 medals (36 gold, 26 silver and 25 bronze).
Though they retained the position they had achieved in the final standings at the 2015 Games in Brazzaville, it was the nation’s lowest ever medal count at the quadrennial showpiece.
Despite the absence of the likes of Chad le Clos and Tatjana Schoenmaker, the SA swimming contingent carried the team.
Led by breaststroke specialist Kaylene Corbett, who earned three gold medals in individual events, they raked in 45 medals in the pool, including 20 gold.
The canoeing squad also did well to contribute 10 medals, including eight gold, while the cycling contingent grabbed nine medals, adding six golds to the bag.
The track and field team were disappointing, however, in the absence of the likes of Akani Simbine, Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai.
High jumper Mpho Links was the athletics team’s only gold medallist, and they were set to return home with a total of just 17, which was far fewer than may have been expected from them.
With the SA squad failing to reach triple figures for the first time, Egypt secured a runaway victory at the top of the overall medals table.
While they were still aiming for more medals in tennis and volleyball on Saturday’s final day of competition, the Egyptian team had already secured a total of 270 medals, including 101 gold, with Nigeria cementing their place in second position with a total of 126, including 46 gold.