Expect four medals: scientist
South Africa has the ability to bag four medals at this year’s London Olympic Games, sports scientist Ross Tucker said.
“I think four medals is the realistic target. I cannot see 12 coming out of this squad at the moment,” he told reporters in Newlands, Cape Town yesterday.
“I agree with the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee when they say that this is a team which has enormous potential, but Olympic medals are not won by potential, they’re won by ability.”
Sascoc president Gideon Sam recently set the bar high when he announced a target of 12 medals.
South Africa got only one medal, a silver, at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Tucker did not expect any gold, only two silver and two bronze medals. The most likely candidates for medals were swimmer Cameron van der Burgh in the 100m race, Sunette Viljoen in javelin, and Burry Stander in mountain biking.
South Africa’s Beijing medallist, long jumper Khotso Mokoena, had up to a 50% chance of getting a medal, Tucker said. Mokoena’s recent form had been patchy, but he had experience behind him.
Others with “hope” were athlete Richard Murray, hurdler LJ van Zyl, swimmer Chad le Clos, and middle-distance runner Caster Semenya.
“If we win five or six, I think we’ve done well, and if we win fewer than that (four) I think it will be a little bit disappointing.”
Tucker said the R78 million that had been pumped into this year’s South African squad was not enough.
“There’s quite a good relationship between how much money you put in and how many medals you get out.
“We’ve increased the funding, but I don’t think we’ve increased it enough. I don’t think we’ve put the funding in the right place necessarily.”
The country had the right athletes and coaches, if not enough of them, but management and funding needed to be the focus for the future.
Tucker works with the University of Cape Town and the SA Sports Science Institute in exercise physiology and sports management.