OLYMPIC gold medal winner and multi- South African swimming record holder Ryk Neethling expects South Africans to do well at the London Games this year, although he believes the target of 12 medals might be too high.
Neethling said: "I think we will be getting fewer medals than the target, but I’m sure the athletes will do well. We have some quality athletes representing us.”
The qualification standards for the SA Olympic team has been a hot topic, with many believing the criteria are unfair and strict because it is harder for athletes to qualify than in other countries.
But the former swimmer is supportive of the stringent standards. "The stringent qualification we have for the Olympics will count in our favour. It is good to have high standards because that way we can be competitive.”
Neethling became the first South African at the Beijing Games in 2008 to compete in four successive Olympics after making his first appearance in 1996 in Atlanta.
He was part of the 2004 Athens Games gold medal winning 4x100m relay team which set a world record time of 3min 13.17sec. The team also included Roland Schoeman, Lyndon Ferns and Darian Townsend.
Neethling still beams when he remembers the historic race. "I wrote a whole book about the success of winning the gold medal. It was quite an experience. It was really something special,” he said.
Neethling, who retired from competitive swimming after the 2008 Olympics, remains involved in swimming by managing swimmers, including SA medal hopeful Cameron van der Bergh.
Outside of the sport, he is a director at a wine estate in the Cape winelands.