Young guns shoot for the moon

2012-06-16 18:41

Caster Semenya
 
Sport: Athletics
Age: 21
Olympic appearances: 0

In the three years she had been competing in the senior ranks, Semenya has engraved her name alongside those of the legends in mid distance running.

The list include local greats Zola Budd and Zelda Pretorius whom Semenya erased their records when the Limpopo-born runner became the African junior champ in 2009.

Not even the gender verification row that overshadowed Semenya’s grand debut at the highest level could erase the footprints of Mzansi’s top two-lap specialist of the modern era.

Semenya was just 18 when she clocked a continental championships record of 1:56.72 to become the African Junior champion in the 800m in 2009.

In less than a month after her feat at the Mauritius Championships - where she also won the 1 500m title.

Sifiso Nhlapo

Sport: Cycling - BMX
Age: 25
Olympic appearances: 1
“Skizo”, as Nhlapo is known in the cycling fraternity, is already a BMX force to be reckoned with internationally, with several global and European championships podium finishes under his belt.

Most athletes of the modern era have tattoos as a way of recording their milestones or expressing their character but Nhlapo has an inscription of a different make.

He carries a big scar on his right shoulder as a result of a crash that deprived him of a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics while leading the closing stages of the BMX final.

Nhlapo’s true character is embedded in his ability to stage miraculous comebacks from career-threatening injuries.

His road to London has not been smooth either, with doctors doctors’ predicting that he will never race again.
 
Robyn Moodaly

Sport: Football
Age: 17
Olympic appearances: 0

Moodaly has enjoyed a rapid rise thanks to her amazing skills with the ball and an eye for goal.

The TuksSport High School Grade 12 pupil is singled out as one of the players that played a key role in securing Banyana their maiden Olympic qualification.

In the words of her business manager Mike Makaab: “She has shown her talent and drive by playing competitive international football against women nearly twice her age – and beating them.”

Banyana are pitted in a tough group in London but the player from East London has shown little respect to even the fiercest rivals with her football brains.

Chad le Clos

Sport: Swimming
Age: 20
Olympic appearances: 0

Le Clos has made a big statement since his introduction to big time swimming two years ago.

And he has a massive collection of discs to prove his worth.

The Durban-born swimmer put the shine on his already glittering career with a 35-medal haul en route to being crowned the FINA Swimming world champion last year.

It has been a while since SA swimmers delivered at the Olympics and Le Clos has been tipped to bring one home at the London showpiece.

Sulette Damons

Sport: Hockey
Age: 22
Olympic appearances: 0

The lass from Graaff-Reinet holds the distinction of having captained all the age groups she has played in for Eastern Province.

But it was her impressive form with the SA Under-21 side caught the eye of the senior national selectors in 2010 and today, Damons is regarded as one of the key players in the Proteas attack.

Damons will together with the veterans of the side, Marcia Marescia and Pietie Coetzee, carry the nations’ hopes as coach Giles Bonnet and her charges bid for a medal at the Olympics next month.


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