South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam has set an ambitious target of 12 medals for Team South Africa at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
In 1996 in Atlanta, Team South Africa scooped five medals, followed by another five at the 2000 Sydney Games. The medal tally improved marginally to six in 2004 in Athens, but fell below expectations in Beijing in 2008 when the team brought home only one medal.
"We have set ourselves a target of 12 medals ... If you do not set the target, you would probably end up with only one medal," Sam said in an exclusive interview with SAnews.gov.za.
"You look into athletics and you say the minimum that you can get is about three medals. I'm not talking about maximum, and you say out of swimming, the minimum that you can get on the day is three medals, so you are at six now. In cycling, you can expect one or two, and in rowing, we are hoping to get one," Sam said.
"Our boxers are young and enthusiastic, but my only concern is that they may make a mistake over their enthusiasm. However, on the day, one of those boxers should get a medal.
"You see how we've tried to put these things together, and we are working on minimums," Sam added.
'We should get close to 12 medals'
"If things go right and we get maximums, we should get close to 12 medals."
Sam said Team South Africa should maintain the high performance it displayed at the All Africa Games in Mozambique, where the team finished on top and far ahead of the number two team on the medal table.
"When we go to the Olympics, we must continue to be number one in Africa. Targeting 12 medals in my book is realistic.
"The day I was elected in November 2008, I said that we are going for 12 medals. I've been in sport for over 30 years, I know the strength of South African sport," he reckoned.
He added that South African athletes should use the 2012 London Olympics to improve their performance.
'We need to improve our performance'
"As a country, we need to improve our performance at the Olympics. Since the dawn of democracy, we've never hit seven medals, which means there is something which we need to iron out. So I went to the athletes, coaches and federations and said to them, 'Let's work towards getting 12 medals'."
Sam said he would be disappointed if Team South Africa's tally fell below five medals at the Olympics.
"However, eight, nine medals will give me that courage to go for the 2016 Olympics because I will know it will be possible."
The Sascoc president said all athletes who were in the country would assemble at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria on 17 July.
On 18 July, the team will take action to change the world for the better by spending 67 minutes as part of Mandela Day.
Later in the day, the team will be hosted by President Jacob Zuma at the presidential guesthouse in Pretoria, where they will have dinner and an official send-off before they depart for London on 19 July.
The London Olympic Games take place from 27 July to 12 August.