Who’ll be the new Team SA kit supplier for the Commonwealth Games in Australia? It will not be a repeat of the 361 Degrees teamwear Tubby Reddy sourced from a Hong Kong agent, SASCOC confirmed. We are being kept in suspense until the week of February 19th when the official kit supplier for the South African team will be revealed.

The team led by experienced administrator Ezera Tshabangu, General Manager: High Performance at SASCOC, can just hope to receive the technical sportswear they are accustomed to – and deserve.

Can you guess which sporting has been the most successful for South Africa at the past two Commonwealth Games (2014 and 2010)? A South African team from a largely unsung sporting code topped that code’s medal table at both these Games. Among the fifteen men and women who’ll be representing this code this year are several veterans who contributed to the 7 medals (5 gold and 2 bronze) South Africa won in 2014. A clue: the oldest South African athlete in Team SA (aged 67) will be competing in this code for the sixth time.

Did you perhaps guess … lawn bowls!

lawn-bowls
Lawn bowls, South Africa’s most successful sporting code at the Commonwealth Games, has more than 23 000 registered league players.

With 23 593 registered league participants from more than 500 clubs across the country – mostly centred in the urban areas – retailers will ignore this sport at their peril. Most of the players registered with Bowls South Africa – and note, these are not casual players or business league players – are in Gauteng (6 690), according to the last count in October 2017. This is followed by the Western Cape (5 797), KwaZulu-Natal with 4 915, Eastern Cape with 2 8989 and Free State with 1 152 registered bowlers. In addition, the bowls administrators actively promote the sport among the youth and in schools. For example, at the last Envar Buys Tournament in Beaufort West, 31 youth teams competed, from age group U15 up.

While the Blitzbokke also topped the medal table in 2014, they only came third in sevens rugby in 2010.

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Fifteen-year old swimmer Duné Coetzee from the Tuks Sport school is the youngest member of Team SA going to the Commonwealth Games. Photo Reg Caldecott.

Aquatics, this year represented by the most athletes in Team SA, namely 28 (25 swimmers and three divers) gave us our highest number of medals last time, namely 12 of our total of 40. But, South Africa was only ranked 4th on the swimming medal table. In 2014 our swimmers won 3 gold, 3 silver and six bronze medals – of which Chad le Clos contributed 2 gold, a silver and bronze (some were for relays) and Cameron van der Burgh one gold, a silver and a bronze medal.

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High Performance Centre speed walker Lebogang Shange is training in Portugal to repeat his podium position at the Commonwealth Games. Photo Reg Caldecott.

Last time athletics produced the second highest number of medals (9 – 3 gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze) and this year we’ll be holding thumbs for the likes of Caster Semenya, Sunette Viljoen, Akani Simbini, Luvo Manyonga and Lebogang Shange to mount the podium. Wayde van Niekerk is unfortunately injured, but veteran hurdler LJ van Zyl hopes to add another to his three Commonwealth medals before he retires at the end of the season. In 2014 we were ranked 6th on the athletics medal table.

A silver and bronze medal in triathlon gave us a second place in this code in 2014, and this year Richard Murray, Wian Sullwald and Olympic bronze medallist Henri Schoeman will be expected to match, or better, this.

Wian-Sullwald
Tuks Sport’s Wian Sullwald believes he can achieve his goal of a Commonwealth Games medal. Photo Reg Caldecott.

The eighteen cyclists in the team – which includes Tour Down Under King of the Mountains Nicholas Dlamini and 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Ashleigh Moolman Pasio – will also be expected to produce at least one medal and improve on their 8th position in 2014.

Last time two bronze medals placed South Africa 7th on the wrestling medal table.

With a gold, silver and two bronze medals South Africa was ranked third on the judo medal table in 2014 … but, alas, judo has been dropped from the Gold Coast (Australian) Games in favour of women’s sevens rugby, beach volleyball and basketball. The Commonwealth judo championships will now be held in India later in the year.

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Erin Burger of the SPAR Proteas wins the ball in the Quad series match against England, which the Proteas lost 52-47. Photo Reg Caldecott.

 

Although our Spar Protea netball team has never won a medal at the Commonwealth Games, some of the narrow losses and one win in the Quad Series against champions Australia, New Zealand and England, might just be a warning of a possible upset. Their first challenge will, however, be to outplay either Australia or Jamaica in Pool A to become one of the two teams from the pool to progress to the semi-final. The Proteas will be playing in netball-specific footwear supplied by ASICS.

Our very representative men and women’s hockey teams will this year include a mix of experienced and young new players – including newcomer Siyavuya Nolutshungu, who replaces the experienced Rassie Pieterse as goalkeeper. Both teams are the Africa Cup champions but have been hovering at #4 and #5 at the Commonwealth Games.  The men can expect strong opposition from Australia, India, New Zealand, England and Pakistan, while the women’s main opposition will come from Australia, New Zealand, India, England

Tshabangu, who’ll be chef de mission, has wide experience in sport administration and looking after elite athletes. She has been the High Performance general manager for SASCOC since 2009, during which time she was project manager for the London 2012 Olympic Games. She was academy manager for the Golden Lions Rugby Union from 2002-2006, with the focus of providing support services. Before that she was Director: Sport and Recreation at Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality.

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