South Africa’s world champion 400-metre athlete Wayde van Niekerk got things going for the rainbow nation as the 2016 Rio Olympics were officially opened at the Maracana Stadium on Friday night.
The first time Olympian waved the South African flag proudly in front of a full-house of joyous spectators as SA were the third team into the stadium after Games founders Greece and Afghanistan.
Close to 210 teams got to strut their stuff at the opening ceremony before the Games officially swung into action on Saturday.
South Africa’s men’s and women’s footballers were the first code in action earlier in the week and Saturday sees men’s cycling, gymnastics, rowing, swimming and more football taking place around the city.
The capacity crowd was entertained by some superbly choreographed local Brazilian samba dances with a strong theme on conservation and preservation of the globe.
After a build-up marred by various disruption, the professionalism of the opening ceremony bodes well for what is expected to be a spectacular Games, the seventh time South Africa will be competing since re-admission to world sport and their first Olympics back in Barcelona in 1992.
The men’s road race with Daryl Impey and Louis Meintjes is the first SA code in action on Saturday.
Picture courtesy of Wessel Oosthuizen/SASPA