The 2012 London Olympics have ended, the fancy fireworks all burnt and all the medals won.

The reality of what the various Olympic athletes achieved is still fresh in our minds. Michael Phelps became the greatest Olympian ever, bringing his medal tally to 22; Usain Bolt retained his 200m and his 100m sprint titles and Barbora Spotakova retained her 2008 javelin gold medal.

For the first time in Olympic history all 205 participating countries had female athletes in their squads.

South Africa brought home more medals than we did since readmission in 1992. But this victory masks a failure in South African sport: the medals we missed.

South African Sports Confederation and Committee (SASCOC) president Gideon Sam was quoted as saying at an Olympic level when a medal is up for grabs an athlete should take it.

Javelin athlete Sunette Viljoen missed her medal by centimetres and silver medallist Khotso Mokoena missed his medal by four jumps. The same thing happened to mountain biker Burry Stander. These athletes were the best in their division.

South Africa was ranked 23rd in the medal tally with countries like the Czech Republic and Jamaica ranked higher despite their squads being smaller. The majority of our medals from past and recent Olympic Games came from our swimmers.

Development and funding are given as reasons our athletes failed to achieve their full potential at the Olympics. The hockey teams, for example, had to secure their own funding to participate.

Sports minister Fikile Mbalula told SABC news the South African athletes had received enough money.

But looking at the medal results one can say that more money is pumped into individual sports than team sports such as hockey. Our only medal in a team sport came from rowing.

Yes, the medal tally is the highest in 20 years. Yes, we have more medals than any other African country. But is it enough? Can we improve on this achievement in Rio 2016?

We have the teams and we have the athletes to deliver more medals in four years’ time. Let’s hope the funding and planning plays ball.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 20th Edition,  17 August 2012