By R. Anupam Pillai:
Citius, Altius, Fortius(Faster, Higher, stronger); it is the motto of Olympics, that has revolutionized the avenue of sports to a new level. The performance of African athletes in London Olympics was astonishing, as they achieved success with flying colors, bagging maximum medals in field events. South African athletes bagged six medals in total, where three were gold, two silver and one bronze. South Africa first participated in the Olympic Games in 1904, at St. Louis where they had to be disappointed with their performance as they were unable to bag any medal then.
But, subsequently, in the very next summer, in 1904 at London, Reggie Walker was the first person to create history by winning Gold in 100 meters race, and he still holds the record to be the youngest winner of Olympic 100 meters race. Since then South Africa has outperformed in every athletic event in Olympics by winning a good number of medals and attained recognition in the field of sports. They have produced some of best athletes which history will always remember for their contribution. In 1962, due to the rampant apartheid, the nation was barred from the games. And after the negotiations to end apartheid in South Africa commenced in 1990, the nation participated in 1992 Olympics at Barcelona, where it won two silver medals.
Talking about the recent participation in 2012 Olympics, South Africa has achieved the 24th place on the medals tally. One of the most astounding feats has been performed by Oscar Pistorius, who set a record by being the first amputee to compete in the Olympics athletics competition. He not only competed in the 400 meters event but also qualified the semis.
A new star was born, as the 20-year-old Chad le Clos, showed an agile and buoyant performance by beating the legendary Michael Phelps in the 200 meters butterfly event – at which Phelps had been unbeaten for over a decade – and earned a gold medal in his name. Moreover, he also added silver medal to his collection after finishing second to Phelps in 100 meters butterfly event.
Cameron van der Burgh showed his mettle by performing in 100 meter breaststroke even though he was a 50 meter breaststroker; he smashed the world record title in 58.46 seconds and won a gold medal to his name.
The another gold medal was won, unexpectedly by the men’s lightweight rowing team of Matthew Brittain, Lawrence Ndlovu, John Smith and James Thompson by paddling with their quadrupled efforts to have an incredible win over Great Britain and Denmark.
Caster Semenya, missed out the gold and had to settle for the silver in women’s 800 meters race as she got it little tactically wrong, but still being world no. 2 for a 21-year-old girl is commendable.
The other bronze medal was won by Bridgitte Hartley, who was also the first South African canoeist ever to finish third in 500 meter K1 sprint.
There were other sportspersons as javelin thrower, Sunnette Viljoen, who missed out medal by one place and other mountain biker, Burry Stander, who missed out bronze medal by five seconds.
By showing a competitive and brave performance in London Olympics, South Africa and its athletes have proved their mettle. They could have performed even better if they would have had better facilities and support. Regardless of whatever the circumstances they might have faced prior to the Olympics they showed true sportsmanship and brotherhood, and this is the spirit that makes South Africans a force to be reckoned with!