South Africa at the Olympics (1908 to 2016). Who won the medals and which sports are we best at?

Athletics and swimming are the two sports Team South Africa does best at in the Olympics. Since 1992 our track and field athletes have brought home 15 medals, and our swimmers 14. The swimmers have had the edge when it comes to winning gold, though, until this year, when Caster Semenya and Wayde van Niekerk turned the tables with memorable wins in the 800m and 400m, respectively.

Datablog looks at how South Africa has done at the Olympics since 1992 and beyond in a series of graphics.

Men have taken home twice as many medals as women, who have won most of their medals for athletics.

Between the 1908 Olympics in London and the 1960 Olympics in Rome, South Africa competed with a team comprising only white athletes – which cannot be said to truly represent South Africa. But, out of interest, here’s how those athletes did.

In the first Olympics in which South Africa officially competed in 1908, the team took home two athletics medals: a gold won by Reginald Walker in the men’s 100m with a time of 10.8s, and a silver won by Charles Hefferon in the marathon with a time of 2:56.06.

The first women to win Olympic medals were the members of the 4 x 100m relay swimming team who won bronze in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, according the the Guardian’s dataset. The team members were Marie Redford, Rhoda Rennie, Kathleen Russell and Frederica Johanna van der Goes.

Until 1960, when South Africa was excluded because of its racist laws, boxing was the sport that brought home the most medals – 19 in total.

The data from 1908 to 2008 comes from an open dataset compiled by the Guardian, 2012 data was sourced from BBC Sport, 2016 data was sourced from Google.

The dataset compile for these visualisations is available here.

Main image of Olympic rings, Public Domain

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