London calls for team of 112
SOUTH African Olympic bosses officially pulled the plug on veteran runner Hendrick Ramaala when they named a team of 112 to compete at the 2012 London Games.
The team will grow marginally before the end of the month with further track and field athletes and possibly open water swimmers Chad Ho and Natalie du Toit.
Ramaala, who hoped to become the first South African to compete at five Games, aimed to squeak into the marathon team, but to do that he needed Stephen Mokoka to switch to the 10000m.
But Sascoc yesterday named Mokoka in South Africa's three-man marathon squad. South Africa will contest 17 of the 26 codes on offer in London, including weightlifting, judo, sailing, archery, shooting, equestrian and cycling.
Banyana Banyana are the biggest contributors to the team, with 18 players, followed by swimming and the men's and women's hockey teams, with 16 each. But the aquatics squad could shrink. Jean Basson and Sebastien Rousseau, both based in the US, were picked for the 4x200m freestyle relay, where they will race alongside Chad le Clos and Darian Townsend.
Basson and Rousseau will be monitored, and if they are not in shape the relay team will be withdrawn.
One eye-raising omission was that of decathlon competitor Willem Coertzen. The problem appears to be a misunderstanding - Athletics South Africa required him to produce a qualifying performance only once, but it appears the federation's qualification agreement with Sascoc stipulates decathletes must achieve it twice.
It could be an academic exercise if Coertzen qualifies again at a competition in Europe this weekend, otherwise ASA will have to fight hard to convince Sascoc they must include an athlete who believes he has already qualified.
Long-jumper Khotso Mokoena was not on the list either, but only because he qualified after team lists had been submitted.
Cycling will send a contingent of nine to compete across four disciplines. Sifiso Nhlapo, who crashed in the final in Beijing, is the only BMX entrant. Burry Stander is the big hope in the mountain bike event, and Bernard Esterhuizen is the sole competitor in track.
Daryl Impey will be on his own in the men's road race, but Robyn de Groot, Ashleigh Moolman and Joanna van de Winkel will compete in the women's race.
There are also two boxers, welterweight Siphiwe Lusizi and bantamweight Ayabonga Sonjica. Coach Andile Mofu, who helped guide Bongani Mwelase to South Africa' s first Commonwealth Games gold in nearly five decades in Melbourne in 2006 , believes there could be a boxing medal in the pipeline.
At the least they might win an Olympic bout for South Africa for the first time since 2000.
Sports and number of competitors:
Women's football (18), swimming (16), men's hockey (16), women's hockey (16), athletics (11), cycling (9), rowing (6), badminton (4), triathlon (3), sailing (2), boxing (2), canoeing (2), beach volleyball (2), archery (1), equestrian (1), judo (1), shooting (1), and weightlifting (1).