The South African squad produced a record haul of goals when they competed in the World Student Games recently completed in Napoli, Italy.
Having set themselves a target of eight medals, the University Sport South Africa team returned with an impressive haul of 18, improving on their previous best of 14 medals achieved in Kazan in 2013.
The team came 10th out of the 118 countries that participated in the latest student sporting extravaganza.
Madibaz director of sport Yoliswa Lumka, the deputy head of the SA delegation, said team selection was the key to their success.
“In addition, the timing of the Swimming World Championships just a week after the World Student Games and the athletics season in Europe ensured that most of the athletes were in their peak period and this showed in their performances,” she said.
Nelson Mandela University’s Andrew Kock, who managed the athletics team, said the squad had stepped up to the plate when it mattered.
“Athletics won 11 medals (1 gold, 6 silvers, 4 bronzes) and the team performed exceptionally well,” he said. “Temperatures reached as high as 40C, with high humidity as well.
“Although there were many youngsters, we treated them like professional athletes and constantly involved them in decisions that would affect the team and the performances.”
One of the track and field highlights for Kock was the men’s 400m hurdles, where Sokwakhana Zazini set a new Africa and South African junior record of 48.73 seconds to win a silver medal.
Another Nelson Mandela University member, Brittany Blaauw, handled the social media and said it was “a great experience”.
“The time spent learning from management as well as understanding various cultures while connecting with students across the world and adapting to the European lifestyle was a game-changer,” she said.
“The lesson I learnt was that there is way more that goes into planning a trip of this magnitude than you could imagine.
“Everyone plays a part, no matter how big or small, and this has an impact on the entire team’s performance.”