Team South Africa checks out of the Rio Games village today having delivered one of the country’s most powerful Olympic performances yet.
With stars like Caster Semenya, Wayde van Niekerk and Chad le Clos, the class of 2016 equalled the nation’s highest tally of 10 medals, achieved only twice before, at Helsinki 1952 and Antwerp 1920.
Two gold, six silver and two bronze – with four fourth places — is a dividend that no living South African can remember.
It exceeds the two gold, four silver and four bronze in Finland 64 years ago, and falls short only of the three gold, four silver and three bronze in Belgium almost a century ago.
The only downside in Rio was the gold medal count, which is what determines position on the table.
Team SA was 24th at London 2012 with three gold medals, but they had slipped a few places with two, lying 29th by yesterday afternoon.
They were the second-highest African nation behind Kenya, with six golds among 13 medals.
South Africa’s best-yet gold medal count was four, at Stockholm 1912.
Here is SA’s top 10:
1 Wayde van Niekerk (400m gold)
Winning the 400m in a 43.03sec world record was the stand-out achievement of these Games.
2 Caster Semenya (women’s 800m gold)
She dominated. Not an easy task.
3 Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling (men’s pairs silver)
There was not a dry eye in the South African section of the stands when cancer survivor Brittain and veteran Keeling finished second.
4 Luvo Manyonga (long jump silver)
A tale of courage. Manyonga was at the bottom of the barrel amid a tik addiction, but in less than two years he turned around his life to achieve his unlikely fairytale.
5 Chad le Clos (200m freestyle silver)
Le Clos, known as a butterfly expert, was considered an outsider in this event, but he attacked this race from the start and nearly won gold.
6 Cameron van der Burgh (100m breaststroke silver)
Van der Burgh was struggling for form in the heats and semifinals here, but the seasoned veteran produced when it mattered and he clinched the silver behind unbeatable Briton Adam Peaty.
7 Chad le Clos (100m butterfly silver)
Our only double medallist in Rio, Le Clos, the world champion in this event, should have won gold.
8 Henri Schoeman (men’s triathlon bronze)
In bed with fever two days before, underdog Schoeman went out with the leaders and he stuck there to make the podium.
9 Sunette Viljoen (javelin silver)
Viljoen had a good opening throw to take the early lead, but was unable to improve on that.
10 Blitz Boks (Sevens bronze)
Most observers agree they should have been at least silver medallists. The Commonwealth Games champions had no business losing to Great Britain in the semifinals. But we will take the medal.