SA team to bring medal home
Johan Cronje (Getty Images)
Johannesburg - The South African athletics team is due to arrive at OR Tambo on Tuesday afternoon with a solitary bronze medal to show for their efforts at the recent IAAF World Championships held in Moscow.
Johan Cronje bagged the bronze medal in the 1 500m on Sunday, the last day of the competition, giving South Africa it's first medal, of any colour, in the metric mile.
South Africa were placed last, in 33rd position, on the medal table, a step backwards after winning four medals (two silver and two bronze) in Daegu in 2011 and three (two gold and a silver) in Berlin, in 2009.
The best medal performance, since the return to international competition, came from Paris, in 2003, where South Africa bagged two gold, one silver and one bronze.
It was not the worst performance by South Africa, as the athletes failed to medal in other years, and team manager Magda Botha believed the medal count told only one side of the story.
"The highlights (of Moscow) were the athletes who got through to the finals, especially Johan winning a bronze medal," Botha said.
"The lowlight is that we expected more from some of the athletes and they didn't perform."
Botha said over 60% of the 26 athletes were novices to world or major senior championships.
"This is a learning curve. It's the first world championship in the four-year cycle up to 2016," she said.
"The athletes said they learnt a lot and were motivated -- even the closing ceremony motivated them."
High Performance Manager, Wilf Daniels was more harsh in his criticism, and pointed to the administrative problems faced by Athletics South Africa.
"It's been one of the most disappointing performances in recent years.
"We had a lot of talented athletes on the team who didn't perform to their best of ability, but considering the boardroom shenanigans that have being going on for last 6-8 months, it's not surprising," Daniels said.
"I hope the administrators will now pull up their socks and ensure they deliver the environment for athletes to perform at world class level."