ATP Tour

Klaasen's valiant Olympic bid fails

2016-06-08 14:00
Raven Klaasen (AFP)

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 years.


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