Team South Africa, 187 of the country’s top athletes who will represent South Africa in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland later this month, has been given a presidential send off.
The team were invited to the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria to meet Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, Sport and Recreation Minister, Fikile Mbalula, and representatives from the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) on Tuesday to officially hand over the National Flag to the team’s flag bearer.
The team, which is currently at a training camp in Johannesburg, leaves for the games on Wednesday.
Wearing the green Team SA jersey, the Deputy President wished the team well. He said the whole country was behind them and this along should encourage them to perform at their highest level.
“Dance on the world stage, own it and show them,” he said, adding that the country expected them to return with nothing less than 43 medals.
He called on every citizen from all walks of life to support the athletes as they conquer the world in the games.
Sport is the glue that binds all South Africans, recognising the great diversity of South Africans in their roles and positions in society.
It also fosters greater social cohesion, the Deputy President said, using the unity displayed during the 2010 FIFA World Cup as an example.
“Through sport we can achieve greatness. You are part of this winning nation -Mandela’s nation.”
Team SA will participate in several sporting codes including aquatics, wrestling, badminton, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, hockey, judo, lawn bowls, netball, para-powerlifting, rugby sevens, shooting and triathlon, among others.
The games, which will take place between 23 July – 3 August, is described as the third largest multi-sport event in the world, after the Olympic Games and the Asian Games. There will be 70 participating nations at the 2014 games after Gambia announced that it would not be taking part in October last year.
At the last Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India four years ago, Team SA clinched 33 medals to end joint fifth on the medals table with 12 gold, 11 silver and 10 bronze medals.
This year, the team plans to scoop no less that 43 medals: 15 gold medals, 12 silver medals and 16 bronze medals.
Minister Mbalula said the team must seize the opportunity to represent the country.
SASCOC President, Gideon Sam, said the games will not be a walk in the park, but the athletes must go to Glasgow ready for a battle royale. “We are going there to represent the country,” Gideon said.
Speaking on behalf of the athletes, flag bearer Cecil Afrika thanked the nation for the support already shown.
The team boasts a rich spread of both Olympic and Commonwealth Games experience as well as stars of the future.
The swimming squad includes 2012 Olympic gold medallists Cameron van der Burgh, Chad le Clos and timeless Roland Schoeman.
Sprinter Simon Magakwe, Fanie van der Merwe and LJ van Zyl make up the track and field athletes.
The boxing squad includes Ayabonga Sonjica, Siphiwe Lusizi and Paul Schafer, while the cycling squad includes Lise Olivier, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio.
The full list of the squad can be found on the SASCOC a href=”http:www.sascoc.co.za”websitea.
Source : SAnews.gov.za