Tickets to London hard-earned
CHAD le Clos may have been the first SA swimmer to qualify for the Olympics, but he wasn't even the first person in his household to secure a trip to London.
His parents booked their tickets last year and then told their son he had to do the same. Le Clos secured his place on two occasions at the SA championships in Durban last week as he led nine swimmers into full-blown Olympic qualification.
Selection criteria are tough this time around - SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee president Gideon Sam says he wants no tourists. Medal hopefuls only. One would expect the size of Team SA to be substantially smaller than the 131 athletes who went to Beijing.
The pool swimmers have until May 15 to secure qualification, but even so, they're unlikely to swell their number beyond 14, including relay swimmers.
The women's marathon team will go with a full contingent of three runners, as will the men's team. Hendrick Ramaala, who was hoping to become the first South African to compete at five Games, appears to have failed in his London bid.
He achieved a qualifying time, but his effort wasn't one of SA's top three. His only hope now is if Stephen Mokoka scraps the marathon for the 10000m. That's unlikely - Mokoka himself has said his best chance of a medal is in the marathon. And Mokoka hasn't fully qualified in the 10000m yet.
While Irvette van Blerk was qualifying in the women's marathon, her Olympic-bound fiance LJ van Zyl was on the range practising his sharp-shooting, one of his favourite hobbies. Van Zyl, the 400m hurdler, was SA's first track and field athlete to book his spot, and now there are five, the most recent being Caster Semenya.
Several more are expected to enlist by the June 30 deadline, including Oscar Pistorius, sprinter Simon Magakwe and past Olympic silver medallists, long-jumper Khotso Mokoena (2008 Games) and 800m runner Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (2004).
Sam has targeted 12 medals for 2012, and the bulk of whatever silverware SA does win will come from athletics and swimming. But there are 26 sports on offer in London and SA will be competing in several. Certainties to represent SA in other codes include Banyana and the women's hockey team.
Qualification has also been achieved in rowing, canoeing, road cycling and equestrian. Others are still looking to qualify.
The men's nine-strong boxing team are heading to a qualifying tournament in Morocco, while the women's team of three make their bid in China next month.
Judoka Jacques van Zyl heads out the country soon looking to qualify. Natalie du Toit will look to book her place as an open-water swimmer in June.