Scene City: Chilling downtown with the Olympians

2012-06-09 09:31

Many South Africans do not know the athletes who are going to represent them at the upcoming London (England) Olympic Games.

The Games start on July 27 and end on August 12.

On Tuesday, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and pay TV channel SuperSport hosted a lunch at the trendy Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, to announce their line-up and over-the-top coverage of the Games.

We won’t go into details here, but just know that for 17 days, the channel will be serving the Games for breakfast, lunch and dinner with in-between snacks.

The event’s hosts and hostesses were models impersonating the British monarchy with Queen Elizabeth wearing a light-blue suit with an ankle-length hem that the real Queen wouldn’t be seen dead in.

The Spice Girls (dressed in some Lady Marmalade-type outfits) also represented their nation.

While the bite-sized salmon and beef finger foods were served alongside the fruit punch athletes, members of the media and administrators hobnobbed.

There were a couple of familiar faces in the audience.

The delectable Olympic gold medallist Ryk Neethling stood head and shoulders above everyone, making him easy to spot in his grey Polo sweater, blue shirt and jeans to match his swoonworthy blue eyes.

“I don’t swim as often as I used to,” said the swimming champ when event MC Neil Andrews joked that Neethling had gained some weight.

One person who has definitely gained weight in the gut since his retirement from running and Strictly Come Dancing days is Hezekiel Sepeng, silver medallist at the Atlanta (the US) Games and the first black athlete to clinch an Olympic medal for South Africa.

He said: “I’m enjoying my retirement, but I’m looking forward to going to London with the team as a consultant and commentator.”

Asked what are the chances of the athletics team – including 400m hurdles stars LJ van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks and world 800m gold medallist Caster Semenya – bringing home gold, Sepeng answered: “The team is in a good condition.

Although I am a bit worried about the competition for Caster, I have a feeling that once she gets into the Games, she will get into the swing of things.”

Sepeng, along with Neethling, Olympics legend and American Carl Lewis, Udo Carelse, Carol Tshabalala (née Manana) and others will be on screen daily with some extra randomness provided by model Nicole Flint who will be covering the lighter stories around London.

Other notable guests included the first black athlete to win South Africa an Olympic gold, Josiah Thugwane; freestyle swimmer Annette Cowley; former world boxing champ Masibulele “Hawk” Makepula, who is now a preacher; Happy Ntshingila, who has been SuperSport chief executive for three months; and Sascoc president Gideon Sam.

The Olympic medal hopefuls included Banyana Banyana’s Kylie-Ann Louw and Janine van Wyk, Olympic BMX racing finalist Sifiso Nhlapo, boxers Siphiwe Lusizi and Ayabonga Sonjica, marathon runner René Kalmer and national 50km walking record holder Marc Mundell who recently broke yet another record in Russia when he qualified for the Games.

The athletes spent time congratulating each other amid the sound of 70s rock band Queen performed live by Joseph Clark in the background.

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