Johannesburg - South Africa will be targeting at least 10 medals at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) president Gideon Sam said in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
"I will stick my neck out and say we are going to Rio where the minimum number of medals will be 10," Sam said at Olympic House in Johannesburg.
The lofty target is four more than the haul from the London Olympics where the South African team returned with three gold, two silver and a bronze medal to end off their most successful post-apartheid Games campaign.
Sam was speaking at the announcement of the new list of athletes to benefit from Operation Excellence (Opex), the premier funding programme for prospective Olympic and Paralympic medallists.
The list had been whittled down from 85 athletes to 58 but Sam said some of the athletes who had dropped off the programme would be supported through the National Academy System.
Opex identifies and supports prospective Olympic and Paralympic medallists by means of financial assistance, and through the payment of medical and training expenses.
Evaluation of the Opex squad was done every six months where SASCOC accessed the beneficiaries' key performances and determined which athletes would continue to be supported.
Sam reiterated that SASCOC would not be taking any passengers to the Olympic Games and it was up to athletes to earn the right to go to the global showpiece.
"We've said it many times that we cannot have a team of 300 and come back with four medals," Sam said.
"It is fine to say 'I am an Olympian' but you must earn that title. Go there and really perform with a top three or top five then you can say 'I am an Olympian'."
Sam said SASCOC was in the process of strengthening the support base for South African athletes by involving universities and state institutions such as the SA National Defence Force.
"I will present them with a list of what we have going forward and ask them how can they help us," he said.
The latest Opex list only included two swimmers, with Olympic gold medallists Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh making the cut.
Six track and field athletes were included in the programme with Cornel Fredericks (400m hurdles), Khotso Mokoena (triple jump/long jump), Sunette Viljoen (javelin throw), Wayde van Niekerk (400m), Zarck Visser (long jump) and Anaso Jobodwana (100m/200m) receiving support.
"We continue to focus on our federations to deliver the best athletes for all our competitions," Sam said.
"We do this through Opex, support for our coaches and also ensuring that our federations are active in the nine political provinces."
The South African rowing team were among the big winners following an unprecedented year where James Thompson and John Smith claimed the country's first world title in the lightweight double sculls.
Shaun Keeling and Vincent Breet won bronze in the men's heavyweight pair at the World Rowing Championships in the Netherlands.
These four were among nine rowers that made it onto Opex thanks to five boats making it into A finals at the world championships.
Meanwhile, Sam said South Africa's bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games was on track but SASCOC was awaiting cabinet approval.
"Only when government gives the go-ahead, can we can jump up and down but so far so good."
The City of Durban is competing with Canadian city Edmonton for the hosting rights and the vote on the 2022 bid will be conducted in Auckland on September 2 next year.