When Caster Semenya was chosen to carry the SA flag during the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony, it was a good omen of things to come for the 21-year-old Tukkie athlete.
Semenya began the 800 m final as she did many times this season – running at the back of the race. With 200 m left in the race, she turned on the afterburners and surged forward, passing all the athletes but one to finish in second place, winning a superb silver medal. Semenya admitted afterwards that she might have run the race a bit differently, but was ecstatic about the silver medal. "I learned a lot today and will take this with me on my quest for the gold in 2016 in Rio," Semenya said.
Although the other athletes from Tuks did not win any medals, some exceptional performances were showcased by our athletes. With the exception of Caster's silver medal, the highlight was a new South African and African record set by Marc Mundell in the 50 km walk where he finished 32nd with a time of 3:55:52, bettering his record of 3:57:57 set earlier this year at the IAAF Race Walking Cup in Saransk.
Another highlight of the athletics was when Lehann Fourie just missed the SA record in the 110 m hurdles by 0.02 seconds, finishing with a time of 13.28 seconds to gain second place in the semi-final. In the final he came seventh, and remains a medal contender for Rio 2016.
Oscar Pistorius, who was bestowed the honour to carry the flag at the closing ceremony, ran a spirited race in the 400 m heats, finishing with a time of 45.44 to advance to the semi-finals.
The 4x400 m relay team, consisting of three Tuks athletes in the five-member squad (LJ van Zyl, Willie de Beer and Oscar Pistorius), advanced to the final and ran the best time this season by a South African team, finishing seventh with a time of 3:03.46.
Khotso Mokoena, the sole medal winner in Beijing 2008 when he won the silver in the long jump, had problems with his run up in the final, but still gained eighth position in the long jump.
Our athletes have laid a strong foundation for even better results in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.