Melrose — An initial team of 112 athletes to represent South Africa at this year's London Olympics was proudly announced by South Africa's Olympic governing body SASCOC on Wednesday.
The final team to travel to London will be announced on July 4 after the qualification deadline for all sporting codes comes to an end.
SASCOC announced the team at a glittering function at the Olympic House headquarters.
The team is a broad mix of experience and youth and SASCOC President Gideon Sam said the team was chosen from the best talent available for selection. "Today's announcement is the culmination of four years of extremely hard work for everyone, both at SASCOC and in the broader South African sports fraternity.
"I've always said that the building of a team is like doing a jigsaw puzzle. So today we are putting just about the final pieces of that puzzle into place with only a few more additions likely after the final qualification cut-off.
"Make no bones about it, we could have done better if we had more funding but that's always the case. The time for excuses is over and I believe that we have done the very best that we could have done under the circumstances. There was the criticism over the clothing sponsor but we believe we've done our absolute best and when you see our stars turn out at the Olympics and Paralympics I think you'll agree."
Team sports form the bulk of the team thus far with the women's football side taking a squad of 18 players and the men's and women's hockey sides each taking 16 players.
In the individual sports, as expected, aquatics and athletics feature highly with 16 swimmers and 11 athletes being selected.
A total of 16 sporting codes will be represented, ranging from archery to weightlifting and it will be the first time that our national women's side, fondly known as Banyana Banyana, will compete at the Olympics.
For swimming, Athens gold medallist Roland Schoeman joins fellow swimmer Ryk Neethling and athlete Hendrik Ramaala as four-time Olympians, the most by any South African to date. Schoeman has previously competed for South Africa at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
In athletics, 2009 world 800-meter champion Caster Semenya makes the grade for her first Olympics, along with world 400m hurdles bronze medallist LJ van Zyl and Commonwealth Games champion javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen.
The athletics team will also feature a full-strength line-up of three men and three women's marathon athletes.
SASCOC CEO Tubby Reddy was also on hand to congratulate those athletes who had made the team: "We at SASCOC appreciate all the extremely hard work put in by the athletes and administrators and are proud of each and one of them. We set high qualifying standards from the outset but I'm happy to say that our athletes have risen to the challenge. This team was chosen solely on merit and will do us proud on the global stage."
Sam went on to say: "Our athletes across the spectrum have been hugely appreciative of what we at SASCOC have been able to provide for them through our Operation Excellence (OPEX) and we have been able to help them and their coaches. When I look at this team I am filled with pride and hope. This is a very good team and I have no doubt that there is lots of medal potential. And I say potential because although we have got you to this stage and are behind you every step of the way, the final push for the podium rests with you as the athletes."
"Just a few of these names that stand out to me in this team are athletes Caster Semenya, we all know what a tough road she has had to tread to get this far, and Khotso Mokoena who won our only medal in Beijing at the last Olympics.
"In the swimming we have Cameron van der Burgh who many say is our best medal chance, and in Chad le Clos we have someone who was at first punted to shine at the 2016 Olympics but has come on in leaps and bounds over the last two years.
"Then there's Richard Murray who has come from nowhere to really set the global triathlon scene alight and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio who has done so well on the European road cycling scene.
"Throw in our men's lightweight fours rowing combination who won silver at a World Cup recently, and our sailing combination of Asenathi Jim and Roger Hudson who travelled around the globe to finally clinch their spot and I'm sure you will agree with me that this team has something for everything.
"Finally may I, on behalf of SASCOC and the entire South African nation, wish this team the very best before they head off to London. You have earned the right to represent your country. Now do us and yourself proud."
Team South Africa will be made up of the following athletes and team management.
AQUATICS Jean Basson, Charl Crous, Heerden Herman, Chad le Clos, Gideon Louw, Kathryn Meaklim, Graeme Moore, Karin Prinsloo, Sebastien Rousseau, Riaan Schoeman, Roland Schoeman, Leith Shankland, Darian Townsend, Wendy Trott, Suzaan van Biljon, Cameron van der Burgh.
Manager: Shawn Adriaanse, Coaches: Graham Hill and Igor Omeltchenko
ARCHERY Karen Hultzer Coach/manager: Johan Steyn
ATHLETICS Marathon (men): Lusapho April, Stephen Mokoka, Coolboy Ngamole Marathon (women): Rene Kalmer, Tanith Maxwell, Irvette van Blerk. Track and field: Cornel Fredericks, Caster Semenya, Louis Jacobus van Zyl, Sunette Viljoen. 50km race walk: Marc Mundell
BADMINTON Michelle Edwards, Dorian James, Annari Viljoen, Willem Viljoen Coach/manager: Stewart Carson
BOXING Siphiwe Lusizi, Ayabonga Sonjica Coach/manager: Andile Mofu, Coach: Nkosinathi Hlatshwayo
CANOEING Bridgitte Hartley, Tiffany Kruger Manager: Merill King
CYCLING Road: Darryl Impey, Robyn de Groot, Ashleigh Moolman, Joanna van de Winkel. Mountain bike: Phillip Buys, Candice Neethling, Burry Stander BMX: Sifiso Nhlapo Track: Bernard Esterhuizen Coach/manager: Barry Austin, coach: Jean -Pierre van Zyl, Herve' Krebs, Jeroen Swart Mechanic: Dylan van der Merwe
EQUESTRIAN Paul Hart Coach/manager: Alison Abbey, Groom: Tamsyn Hutchins, Vet: David Ellis
FOOTBALL (women) Roxanne Barker, Zamandosi Cele, Amanda Dlamini, Judith Hlumbane, Refiloe Jane, Kylie-Ann Louw, Noko Matlou, Andisiwe Mgcoyi, Philadelphia Mndaweni, Portia Modise, Sanah Mollo, Robyn Moodaly, Marry Ntsweng, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Amanda Sister, Leandra Smeda, Janine van Wyk, Nothando Vilakazi Manager: Lydia Monyepao, Coach: Joseph Mkhonza, Coach: Matsobane Laka, Technical adviser: Ephraim Mashaba.
HOCKEY (women) Tarryn Bright, Dirkie Chamberlain, Pietie Coetzee, Bernadette Coston, Sulette Damons, Illse Davids, Lisa-Marie Deetlefs, Lesle-Ann George, Lenise Marais, Marsha Marescia, Mariette Rix, Shelley Russell, Kathleen Taylor, Nicolene Terblanche, Jennifer Wilson, Kate Woods Coach: Giles Bonnet, Coach: Fabian Gregory, Video analyst: Adrian Carolan
HOCKEY (men) Andrew Cronje, Timothy Drummond, Ian Haley, Rhett Halkett, Marvin Harper, Julian Hykes, Lance Louw, Lloyd Madsen, Thornton McDade, Lloyd Norris-Jones, Taine Paton, Wade Paton, Erasmus Pieterse, Justin Reid-Ross, Jonathan Robinson, Austin Smith Manager: Anton van Rooyen, Coach: Gregg Clark, Coach Kurt Cerfonteyn, Video Analyst: Moabi Malebye
JUDO Gideon van Zyl Coach/manager: Nikola Filipov
ROWING Men's lightweight cox less four: Matthew Brittain, Lawrence Ndlovu, John Smith, James Thompson Women's Pair: Lee-Ann Persse, Naydene Smith Coach/manager: Roger Barrow, Coach: Paul Jackson
SAILING Asenathi Jim, Roger Hudson Coach/manager: David Hudson
SHOOTING Alistair Davis Coach/manager: Frank Davis
TRIATHLON Richard Murray, Kate Roberts, Gillian Sanders Coach/manager: Lindsey Parry
VOLLEYBALL (beach) Freedom Chiya, Grant Goldschmidt Coach/manager: Gershon Rorich
WEIGHTLIFTING Jean Greeff Coach/manager: Aveenash Pandoo
GENERAL TEAM MANAGEMENT Chef de Mission: Francis Maleka Project manager: Ezera Tshabangu Manager (Operations): Patience Shikwambana, Manager (Athlete Services): Leon Fleiser Athlete Services: Victoria Hlatshwayo Manager (Logistics): Isaac Mdaka Logistics: Joanne Myers
MEDICAL Chief medical officer: Kevin Subban Chief physiotherapist: Bafana Sihlali Medical doctors: Phathokuhle Cele, Louis Holthausen Physiotherapists: Caren Fleishman, Tamlyn Guest, Nhlanhla Maphanga, Hendrick Maree, Fikile Phasha, Tanushree Pillay, Louise-Ann Rivett, Nandhakumar Viranna