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South African athletes who will make their debut in the Olympics say though they are nervous at the thought of competing on such a big stage, they are nevertheless looking forward to the Games.
The athletes are Thuso Mpuang, Isabel le Roux and Tsholofelo Thipe. They are among the athletes who scooped medals at the 16th African Athletics Championships that ended on Sunday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Team South African were again crowned the overall winners of the championships after amassing 22 medals - 12 gold, two silver and eight bronze. They won the event three years on the trot.
The athletes arrived at the OR Tambo International Airport on Wednesday afternoon.
Mpuang, from Bloemfontein, won gold in the 200m in a time of 20,57 seconds. The 23-year-old, who was representing his country for the first time in the tournament, defeated world-class sprinters Stephane Buckland of Mauritius and Botswana's Fanuez Kenosi.
"Obviously, I'm nervous going to the Olympics because it will be the first time that I will be competing on such a big stage. But I'm working hard and I think I will be ready for the Olympics," a confident Mpuang told Sowetan.
The 21-year-old Le Roux also claimed a gold medal in the women's 200m, powering home in an unbelievable time of 22,69, making her the fastest South African in the 200 after Heide Seyerling, who clocked 20,63 in 2001.
"I am having butterflies going into the Olympics but I'm a professional and ready to face challenges in Beijing," said the hugely talented Le Roux.
Thipe, 22, was thrilled after finishing fourth in the 400 and registering an IAAF A-standard that secured her ticket to the Games.