Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist


Sascoc unveils first 39 athletes in SA team for Paris Olympics

The provisional team features the likes of swimmer Tatjana Smith, and sprinters Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine.


It is full steam ahead for South Africa’s campaign at the Olympic Games, with the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) announcing the first group of athletes in the SA team.

There are still opportunities for athletes to qualify in various sports, including athletics and swimming, and final squads in team codes have not yet been revealed.

However, at the first of three team announcements held in Johannesburg yesterday, the national Olympic committee confirmed that 39 athletes had already been selected in seven sports for the SA squad at the quadrennial showpiece in Paris.

While there were no real surprises, Shaun Maswanganyi (200m) and Francois Prinsloo (discus throw) were missing from the track and field list, but both athletes qualified more recently than others and should be included in the next team announcement.

Medal hopes

And while the make-up of the full team was still unclear, Sascoc president Barry Hendricks said he was optimistic about the nation’s medal chances in the French capital.

The 39-member provisional team included the likes of in-form 100m sprinter Akani Simbine, 400m world record holder Wayde van Niekerk and 200m breaststroke defending champion Tatjana Smith.

“If we look at the recent results in athletics, the athletes are coming together and peaking at the right time, and if you look at the action in the swimming pool as well in Gqeberha the other day (at the SA Championships) I was quite excited with the results and times,” Hendricks said.

“Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the men’s rugby sevens team as well, who must still qualify.”

Cash incentives

Sascoc, meanwhile, confirmed incentives for athletes and coaches at the Games, to be held in the French capital between 27 July and 11 August.

Gold medallists would receive R400,000, silver medallists would get R200,000 and bronze medallists would earn R75,000.

Their coaches would receive R100,000 for gold, R50,000 for silver and R25,000 for bronze.

Provisional SA team

Aquatics

Men: Pieter Coetzé (100m, 200m backstroke), Chad le Clos (100m butterfly), Matthew Sates (100m, 200m butterfly and 200m IM)

Women: Aimee Canny (200m freestyle), Kaylene Corbett (200m breaststroke), Erin Gallagher (100m butterfly), Rebecca Meder (200m IM), Tatjana Smith (100m, 200m breaststroke), Julia Vincent (diving, 3m springboard)

Athletics

Men: Akani Simbine (100m), Luxolo Adams (200m), Benjamin Richardson (200m), Wayde van Niekerk (400m), Zakhiti Nene (400m), Lythe Pillay (400m), Tshepo Tshite (1500m), Adriaan Wildschutt (5000m, 10000m), Stephen Mokoka (marathon), Jovan van Vuuren (long jump)

Women: Marione Fourie (100m hurdles), Prudence Sekgodiso (800m), Zeney Geldenhuys (400m hurdles), Rogail Joseph (400m hurdles), Gerda Steyn (marathon), Cian Oldknow (marathon), Irvette van Zyl (marathon)

Canoeing

Men: Andrew Birkett (kayak sprint), Hamish Lovemore (kayak sprint)

Women: Tiffany Koch (kayak sprint), Esti Olivier (kayak sprint)

Gymnastics

Women: Caitlin Rooskrantz (artistic)

Sport climbing

Men: Joshua Bruyns (speed climbing), Mel Janse van Rensburg (lead & boulder)

Women: Aniya Holder (speed climbing), Lauren Mukheiber (lead & boulder)

Surfing

Men: Matthew McGillivray, Jordy Smith

Women: Sarah Ann Baum

Wrestling

Men: Steyn de Lange (92kg)