At the Atlanta Games in 1996 South Africa, riding a wave of "Madiba Magic", won three gold medals.
Great Britain picked up only one. What happened next is irrefutable evidence that if you want to pick up Olympic medals you have to invest in different sports.
Britain turned to the National Lottery and poured money into federations through UK Sport.
› ANCYL plans monthly marches in Cape Town
› SA needs more investment in Olympic sports
They had a strategy and at London they signed off third on the medals table, behind superpowers the US and China, with 28 gold and 62 medals in total. South Africa returned with three gold and six medals in total.
It was five better than Beijing but it also equalled the return from Athens in 2004, which is no surprise. It was one of the easiest calls to make when asked to predict a medals return before Team SA departed.
About £264-million was spent on delivering Team Great Britain to London 2012. That is £66-million a year.
By comparison, South Africa, through lottery and government funding, spent the equivalent of £8-million a year. Little wonder Britain won nearly nine times the number of gold medals South Africa did.
There were heroes for South Africa, make no mistake, and South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee president Gideon Sam will be delighted with the return, especially after Beijing, where only one silver came home.
He is unlikely to regret uttering that now much-used "12 in 12" catch line, because it helped push up the bar of expectation, but "16 in 16" in Rio could yet be realistic - if the government and Corporate SA come to the party.
If they do not and if funding for Olympic sports secures only a few million rand here and there, do not expect double-figure returns from Rio, even given for the fact that swimmer Chad le Clos is aiming for four or five of them.
So, in light of the stated target, was South Africa’s Olympic campaign a failure? Not at all.
Article continues on page two and three...