Cape Town - It can be viewed as a bitter irony that Raven
Klaasen's valiant, last-ditch bid to
gain South Africa representation in the forthcoming Olympic Games tennis
event has now failed.
The irony of the situation is that Klaasen himself as the
17th ranked world doubles player remains palpably qualified to compete in the
forthcoming sporting extravaganza in Brazil.
But because the next highest South African doubles player is
ranked no higher than 123rd, Klaasen found himself between the devil and the
deep blue sea and without a sufficiently qualified partner in fulfilling what
would have been a lifelong dream to participate in the Olympic Games.
"Yes," said former South African Davis Cup player
Jeff Coetzee. "In order to circumvent the standard ruling agreed on by the International Tennis
Federation and the IOC regarding Olympic Games qualification and compete with a
South African of his choice in Brazil, Raven had to reach a top 10 world
ranking by the completion of the French Open."
Coetzee, who now handles Klaasen's affairs, added that he
well understood the bitter disappointment of the situation - having
participated in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing himself.
"It would have meant reaching the French Open final to
gain a world top 10 position," added Coetzee, "and this proved a
bridge too far after Klaasen and American partner Rajeev Ram were shaded in a
tough, closely-fought last 16 encounter by Eric Butorac and Scott Lipsky."
The net result is that South Africa, who have won more
Olympic Games tennis gold medals than any other country apart from the United
States, Great Britain and France, will remain without any representation in the
tennis segment in Brazil after SA's top singles player Kevin Anderson basically
disqualified himself from participation by not making himself available for the
mandatory Davis Cup appearances.
And, as a result, the doubles silver medals secured by Wayne
Ferreira and Pietie Norval more than 20 years ago in Spain will remain for now
the only Olympic Games tennis medals annexed by South Africa in the past 20