South Africa comes out on top for African nations at the Olympics
August 13, 2012
The 2012 London Olympics are over, and while South Africa was not one of the overall champions, they did emerge as the most successful African nation at the Summer Games. According to Sport24, the country's athletes return to their homeland with three gold medals, two silvers and one bronze - the best year the team has had since 1992 in Barcelona. This put them in 24th place overall, one spot ahead of Ethiopia and four places in front of Kenya.
Not only did the team have a stunning overall performance, but they had quite a few memorable moments. Oscar Pistorius became the first amputee to compete in the Olympic Games. While he did not win his race, he did make it to the semi-finals. His accomplishments were recognized the world over, and he was chosen to carry the national flag during the closing ceremony, AllAfrica reports.
"Really feel honoured to be chosen to carry the SA flag in the closing ceremony tonight! What a great ending to the games it'll be!" Pistorius posted on his Twitter account on the final day of the 2012 Olympics.
The "Blade Runner," as he has come to be known, is not the only success story to come from South Africa at this year's Games. Swimmer Chad le Clos not only secured the nation's second gold medal in the 200-meter butterfly, but he beat American Michael Phelps to do so. This event is the signature race for Phelps, who is the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 Olympic medals. Le Clos considers Phelps to be his hero, so it comes as little surprise that he teared up while he stood atop the podium. The news source reports he also took the silver in the 100-meter butterfly - this time letting Phelps take the gold. Le Clos is expected to turn heads yet again at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
The first gold medal awarded to South Africa was thanks to Cameron van der Burgh. The swimmer holds the record as being the fastest 50-meter breaststroker in the world, and he proved his worth in the 100-meter breaststroke race. His time of 58.46 seconds in the final shattered the previous world record (set by van der Burgh in the semi-final) and secured the victory.
The third gold was a first for the South African rowing team. The men's lightweight fours were in fourth place with 400 meters to the finish line, when they pulled ahead and won the race.