SA fingers crossed for Olympics early medal
CHAD le Clos and Katie Meaklim could give South Africa something the nation has never had at an Olympic Games - a medal on the opening day.
Since returning from isolation in 1992, SA's sports stars and fans have always had to wait at least a day to start their celebrations.
The earliest was the gold medal claimed by the men's 4x100m freestyle relay team on the second day in Athens 2004 the longest wait was 10 days at the last Games in Beijing where Khotso Mokoena won the nation's only medal of the Games.
Le Clos is one of five South Africans who will compete in medal competitions tomorrow - four swimmers and one cyclist.
Daryl Impey, who has just completed the Tour de France, has the unenviable task of competing single-handedly against fully-manned teams in the one-day road race. At least his female counterparts on Sunday will field three entrants.
Le Clos, Meaklim, Riaan Schoeman (all 400m individual medley) and Heerden Herman (men's 400m freestyle) all have theoretical shots at making the podium tomorrow, but of them, Le Clos and Meaklim have the best chances.
Both need to be among the eight fastest in the morning heats to qualify for the evening finals.
Before every Olympic Games there is an explosion of optimism, and it's been particularly easy to float away on brilliant dreams in vibrant London, which has been smooched by sunshine and temperatures topping 30°C.
But from today the weather forecaster is predicting dark clouds, rain and lower temperatures.
Likewise, many fantasies are about to be shattered.
Reality check: Le Clos is ranked 14th in the world right now with a time of 4min:13.86sec; Meaklim is 13th with 4:37.70. Both will need to slash at least four seconds off to get into medal range. That's a tall order, but not an impossible one.
Banyana Banyana got a premature dose of reality on Wednesday when they were beaten 4-1 by Sweden. Tomorrow they will know exactly what to expect against Canada, who lost their opener against Japan. That is a critical match, because defeat tomorrow will cull the competition hopes of the SA footballing women.