Rio 2016 Shocker: South Africa's Olympic Squad Debacle

There were simply too many surprises yesterday when Sascoc announced South Africa's Olympic squad - even Sascoc president, Gideon Sam, didn’t hide his shock at some of the selection decisions.

The 137 athletes for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games next month were announced by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee yesterday.

The athletes were named at Sascoc House in Joburg and those left behind will be expected to try again in 2020.
Bafana Bafana Goalie Itumeleng Khune 

In the football men’s team, South Africans didn’t expect 29-year-old Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and his defensive partner Eric Mathoho to be included in the Under-23 Olympic squad.

The duo were picked for the squad as over-age players, but there are many better players who could have been included. It was also surprising that Thabiso Kutumela of Orlando Pirates and Thapelo Morena of Bloemfontein Celtic were put on standby.

Another surprise was that Under-23 coach Owen Da Gama dropped Nkosingiphile Gumede and made him a reserve. Reyaad Pieterse dug his own grave when he messed up in the Cosafa Cup, where he let in easy goals.

Judas Moseamedi has also been axed from the squad that will open their competition against host nation Brazil on 4 August.

In the women’s team, Silindile Ngubane was left behind despite being one of the most credible players, sometimes considered to be the next Portia Modise. Instead of Ngubane, Safa have selected striker Chantelle Esau for their standby team.

Rowing star Sizwe Ndlovu, who was part of the 2012 squad that won gold in London, has been snubbed. In the long jump division, 2014 Commonwealth Games champion Zarck Visser, didn’t make the team despite having qualified for the Games. 

The 400m gold medallist at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Cornel Fredericks, who is based in the United Kingdom, was also given the cold shoulder. Fredericks, who would very likely deliver gold for Mzansi in Brazil, also took home silver at the African Championships in Morocco.

Even Sascoc president Gideon Sam couldn’t hide his shock that Fredericks and Visser didn’t make the final squad. 

He said: “We have invested a lot of money in Cornel and Zarck. We paid a lot to take him to London, and now this? “Zarck didn’t come to the party and this makes me too sad.” - SunSport


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