Who to watch at the Tokyo Olympics

The Tokyo Olympics have kicked off in Japan, albeit with no crowds, and South Africa is hunting for gold in a number of events. Nothing brings the nation together quite like watching proudly as one of our own takes to the podium and even though the time difference is quite dramatic, we’ll definitely be setting our alarm clocks to watch the favourites strive for glory.

Here are some South African Olympic hopefuls to look out for at this year’s games.

Tatjana Schoenmaker and Chad Le Clos

Tatjana Schoenmaker in the pool. Photo by Team South Africa

Barely had the games begun and already 24-year-old Tatjana Schoenmaker set a new Olympic record and picked up SA’s first Tokyo 2020 medal – a silver in the 100m breastroke – definitely one to watch! Nobody can ever forget the magic that was Chad Le Clos’s magnificent win at London 2012 against Michael Phelps. Now competing in his third Olympics this might be the 29-year-old’s final opportunity to add some more medals to the cabinet.

The Olympic swimming takes place July 24 to August 1.

Men’s 4x100m relay

At the World Relay Challenge in Poland in May the South African men’s relay team performed a stunning victory and are in the form of their life, making this Olympics possibly South Africa’s best chance of picking up a relay medal in a long time.

The men’s 4x100m relay final takes place Fri Aug 6 at 15:50.

Wayde van Niekerk

Photo by Olympic Channel

In Rio 2016 van Niekerk broke records, setting a new 400m World Record speed of 34.03 seconds. Even one of the all-time greats Usain Bolt was gushing about the young runner’s stunning abilities. Wayde has spent two year’s out of the sport recovering from injuries and only just qualified at the last minute, but if anybody can excel on the day it is this man. He has said that his ambition is to make history and break the sub 43 seconds barrier… We can’t wait to see what happens on the track.

The 400m semi finals are on Mon Aug 2 at 13:05 and the final on Thu Aug 5 at 14:00.

Akani Simbine

Photo via Team South Africa

The 100-metre sprint is one of the most famous events at the Olympics and the competition will be fierce. However, South Africa’s Akani Simbine, who has still yet to win an international event, recently broke the African record over 100metres making him one to watch when the Super Sunday track races set off.

The mens 100m races take place on Sun Aug 1. The semi-finals are at 12:15 and the final at 14:50.

Men’s rowing

Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling won silver in the coxless pair in Rio 2016 and this year South Africa is competing in two rowing races with the Olympic medallist Brittain on the team.

The rowing events take place from Fri July 23 to 30.

Surfing and skateboarding

Olympic surfer Bianca Buitendag. Photo via Team South Africa

Surfing and skateboarding make their debut as Olympic sports in Tokyo and South Africa has a number of hopefuls in both who we are excited to watch, not least because skateboarding and surfing are both fun sports that are rarely televised.

In the surfing, hopes lie with Bianca Buitendag, while from the skateboarding team there’s Melissa Williams, Andrew Oberholzer, Boipelo Awuah and Brandon Valjalo to root for.

The surfing finals take place on July 27. The skateboarding ‘street’ events take place July 25-26, the ‘park’ events take place on Wed Aug 4 and Thu Aug 5.

Brandon Valjalo representing South Africa in the Olympic skateboarding

Find the schedules and results for all sports at this year’s Olympic Games online at olympics.com

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