South Africa’s expected haul of medals in the pool at the 10th All Africa Games in Maputo could dry up before it begins, writes Mark Etheridge.
That’s because a distinct lack of entries from South Africa’s competitors.
In order for a race to qualify for medal status, at least five countries have to be represented in a final. But entries have been been slow in forthcoming and from an expected 48 finals, including para-swimming events, those in the know reckon it could be half of that when swimming gets underway on Monday.
Most of South Africa’s stars arrived from London on Saturday where they were taking a first┬á hand look at facilities for next year’s London Olympics. Among those landing on Mozambican soil were double-bronze medallist at the recent FINA world championships, Cameron van der Burgh and Commonwealth Games andy Youth Olympics ace Chad le Clos.
Swimming SA’s head coach Graham Hill and fellow coach Dean Price also arrived from London.
Originally seven finals were scheduled but at this stage it looks like the women’s 400-metre Individual Medley, the men’s 200m freestyle and the women’s 4x200m freestyle are going to struggle to attract the minimum five countries.
Officials were expected to meet until late on Sunday to assess the situation.
One athlete affected by the dearth of competition would be Roxanne Tammage. She flew in from the United States but because the competition is thinnest in the longer distance events may find herself having to line up in the 100m freestyle, just to get a swim in. Certainly there could be a situation where some swimmers find themselves without an event to contest.
The first heats will be swum on Monday morning and Van der Burgh will be in action over the 100m breaststroke distance.