It’s never easy to predict what to expect Commonwealth Gamesbut judging by this year’s World Cup performance, the South African team may have to hope for medals in other arenas where the country’s elite stars compete on the track and in the pool.
Traditionally, South Africa has relied heavily on athletics and swimming teams for a multi-sport event.
At the most recent Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast in 2018, athletics (14) and swimming (12) generated 26 out of 37 South African team medals across all codes.
And while it could be argued that there are some young prospects with real potential in both sports, if the national team were to once again rely on athletes and swimmers in Birmingham (as expected), it might not be a memorable sight for South Africa.
At the 2019 Fina World Championships in Gwangju, the South Australian swimming team earned four medals, with the team also showing significant depth by reaching the finals (top eight) in six sports.
Similarly, at the 2017 World Championships in Athletics in London, South Africa won six medals, with athletes reaching the final in eight events.
However, in what looks like a transitional period where the country is relying on some seasoned campaigners who can struggle to hit as hard as they would like, it doesn’t look very promising, at least on paper.
While the South African team was missing Tatiana Schoenmaker and Chad Le Clos at last year’s FINA World Championships in Budapest, the team scored just one bronze medal (thanks to teenager Lara van Niekerk) and they made it to just two finals.
And on World Championships in Athletics in Eugene last week, the national team failed to reach the podium for the second time in a row in the world athletics performance, with only three athletes (sprinters Akani Simbine, Waide van Niekerk and Luxolo Adams) finishing in the top eight in the individual competition. .
There has been a downturn for various reasons, and while we can still smile into the future, we probably shouldn’t hold our breath between the anthems in Birmingham.
Without sufficient quality and depth (by our own standards) Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika may not be played as often as we would like.