Podium hopes: South Africa’s top five chances for Commonwealth Games medals

On paper, the South African team will likely struggle to maintain their place at the top of the medal table. Commonwealth Games in Birmingham starting on Friday.

At the 2018 Australian Gold Coast exhibition, the national team took 37 medals and finished sixth in the table, and they may not have the depth to hit so high in Birmingham.

However, the team is comprised of world-class athletes in a variety of sports who will strive to become leaders.

We take a detailed look at South Africa’s top five odds for medals at the Games.

Tatyana Shenmeyker (swimming)

Taking a backseat this season, Schoenmaker should be looking to make a big statement in the pool.

Tatyana Shenmeyker
Tatyana Shenmeyker on her way to winning the 200m breaststroke final at last year’s Tokyo Olympics. Photo: Getty Images

The 200m world record holder and Olympic champion was stunned by compatriot Lara van Niekerk at this year’s Nationals and missed the recent World Championships to focus on retaining her 100m and 200m breaststroke titles in Birmingham.

While other swimmers will also race for prizes if they lead the SA medal charge at the multi-sport show, Schoenmaker wants to prove that she is still the queen of the water.

Akani Simbine (athletics)

Once narrow missing a medal Back at the World Championships earlier this month, Simbine is looking to show his speed by defending his Commonwealth 100m title.

Hitting the peak at the right time, he will be among the favorites. And while he hasn’t reached top speed yet this year, Simbine’s experience and good form may be enough to get him ahead of his rivals.

However, he reportedly withdrew from the 4x100m relay, which would hurt the team’s chances of a medal.

Ashley Mullman-Pasio (road cycling)

At 36, Mulman-Pasio is one of the most experienced athletes on the national team and she will once again be looking to prove herself.

Bronze medalist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, she was in fine form in the world tour this year, finishing third at the Strade Bianche Donne in March and making it to the podium at the third stage of the Tour de France Femmes last week.

Ranked 11th in the world, she is undoubtedly one of the best riders in the Commonwealth and her consistency suggests she will be on the hunt again.

Blitzboxes (rugby sevens)

Although they have been inconsistent in the World Series of Rugby Sevens this season, blitzboxes are one of the best sides on the world track.

Blitzbox Captain Sivive Soyizvapi. Photo: Gallo Images

Having won gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the Blitzboxes finished fourth in the sevens competition at the 2018 exhibition and they will be looking to return to the podium in Birmingham.

While the SA Sevens women’s team is also in action, they’ll be happy to just gain some valuable experience and the country’s medal ambitions are likely to stay with the men.

Proteas – women (cricket)

Ranked sixth in the world in terms of T20 cricketProteas Women have a real shot at the podium after proving time and time again that they can hold their own against the best teams in the game.

It won’t be easy, however, given that the top two teams, England and New Zealand, will end up in their own pool (Group B) and will need to give their best to reach the semi-finals.

But after making the playoffs at the latest One-Day and T20 World Cup tournaments, they will be dreaming about their chances to make the playoffs again.