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Fri Apr 18 04:59:50 SAST 2014

'Dozen medals too much for London'

CHUMANI BAMBANI | 10 July, 2012 10:320 Comments
Roland Schoeman, top, and Ryk Neethling celebrate winning the men's 4x100m freestyle relay at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. They also broke the world record

Olympic gold medallist and multirecord-holder Ryk Neethling expects South Africans to do well at the London Games, though he believes the target of 12 medals may be too high.

"I think we will be getting fewer medals than the 12 being targeted, but I'm sure the athletes will do well," Neethling said. "We have some quality athletes who will be representing the country."

The qualification standards for the South African Olympic team have been a hot topic, with many believing the criteria were unfair and strict.

It was harder for local athletes to qualify for the Games than it was for their counterparts in other countries, but Neethling supports the stringent standards.

"The stringent qualification we have for the Olympics will count in our favour. It is good to have high standards because that way we can be competitive," he said.

Neethling became the first South African to compete in four successive Olympics after making his first appearance in 1996 in Atlanta.

He was part of the 2004 Athens Games gold medal-winning 4x100m relay team, which set a world record time of 3min 13.17sec.

The team consisted of Neethling, Roland Schoeman, Lyndon Ferns and Darian Townsend. Neethling still beams when he remembers the historic race.

"I wrote a whole book about the success of winning the gold medal. It was quite an experience. It was really something special."

Having retired from competitive swimming after the 2008 Olympics, Neethling remains involved in the sport by managing swimmers, including South African medal hopeful Cameron van der Bergh.

Outside of the sport, Neethling is a director at an estate in the Cape winelands.

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