SUNDAY TIMES - Can Team SA scoop gold in 2022 Commonwealth Games?
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Sunday Times News By KHANYISO TSHWAKU and MATTHEW SAVIDES, 2015-09-06

Can Team SA scoop gold in 2022 Commonwealth Games?

South Africa's Chad le Clos celebrates with his gold medal in the men's 100m Butterfly final at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, July 28, 2014.
Image: JIM YOUNG REUTERS

The pressure will be on for Team South Africa at the Commonwealth Games in 2022, with the host nation facing high expectations of success.

"Naturally, there will be pressure," said Faizal Dawjee, Durban bid committee spokesman. "But that is the nature of sport at the elite level. It is a reasonable expectation."

In previous editions of the games, the host nations have performed above expectations.

Australia won 202 medals at the Manchester Games in 2002, and improved this to 222 four years later when they hosted the event. India won 101 medals when they hosted it in 2010, more than doubling their medal tally from four years earlier. Scotland won 53 medals last year when the games were held in Glasgow, compared with the 26 they won in 2010.

Dawjee said the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee had put a plan in place for South Africa to maintain the pattern.

"Sascoc already has the Operation Excellence programme, which, albeit with limited resources, we have seen producing results, such as our rowing team at the London Olympics," said Dawjee, referring to the men's lightweight fours, who won gold in 2012.

"As part of the operational budget, we intend to invest at least R1-billion in Team South Africa's preparation."

South Africa has experience as a host nation, although with mixed success. The Springboks won the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Bafana Bafana won the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations. But in 2010, the soccer team had a much sadder story to tell, as did the cricket team in 2003.

Mzwandile Stick, who represented South Africa at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Sevens rugby, said that being the host nation would make the athletes up their game.

"I'm not in doubt that South Africa, as a Commonwealth Games team, will make the step up, especially in front of their home fans. There are sports like rugby which are used to delivering the goods at home, but it's different for the other sports that don't get the same attention."

If Team South Africa follow the Sevens rugby model, they would have a great shot at placing high in the medal table.

The Blitz Bokke have made spectacular progress sincethe 1998 games in Kuala Lumpur, where they failed to get a medal. They won bronze four years later and again in 2010. Last year they won gold.

Stick attributes success to solid planning.

"If you want to win a competition that's in 2022, it's best you put the planning together very early."