Six months ago, teenager Anaso Jobodwana had no ambitions of running at the London Olympics but now, with less than three weeks to go before the Games, he is quietly hoping for a place in the semifinals.
Jobodwana, who is expected to be among the few names included in South Africa's final Olympic team on Wednesday, has had a breakthrough season, twice dipping under the 20.55 seconds qualifying standard in the men's 200 metres sprint.
"I had not initially expected to go to London," Jobodwana said on Monday.
"I was injured the whole 2011 season and I didn't think I could pick it up like that."
Jobodwana, who turns 20 on July 30, set a personal best of 20.95 at the age of 17.
Bursting back from his lengthy layoff after a hamstring injury, he clocked 20.66 at an indoor meeting in Nampa, Idaho, in March and he dipped under the Games standard for the first time when he stormed to a 20.32 personal best in Oxford, Mississippi, in April.
Last month, two weeks before South Africa's qualifying deadline, he met the criteria by running 20.50 in Velenje, Slovenia.
"I want to try and bring my time down – that's the goal at the moment – but I'm hoping to make the semi-finals [in London]," Jobodwana said.
"I haven't set any real targets for the Games, though, and I haven't written anything down, so I'm not putting pressure on myself."
A student at Jackson State University in Mississippi, Jobodwana hoped to spend the rest of his Olympic build-up with his family in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape.
"I might run one or two more races in Europe," he said, "but I'm looking forward to getting back home now and then we'll see."
Middle distance runner Andre Olivier, who qualified for the Games when he secured the 800m bronze medal at the African Athletics Championships in Benin last week, is also expected to be added to the 112-member provisional Olympic squad that was named in the first week of June.
Open water swimmers Troy Prinsloo and Jess Roux made strong bids for selection by finishing fifth and 31st, the best of the small South African contingent, at a qualifying event in Setubal, Portugal, last month.
Proving their worth
The focus will be on 'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius, who hopes to compete in the able-bodied Games, despite missing the qualifying standard in the individual one-lap sprint by 0.22 seconds.
While he is unlikely to be chosen in his specialist event, the double amputee, who holds the fastest 400m time by a South African this year, will spearhead the country's 4x400m relay team in London, provided the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) approves their selection.
National one-lap hurdles record holder LJ van Zyl, who led the relay team to the silver medal at last year's World Athletics Championships in Daegu, fell ill and was unable to compete at the continental championships.
In his absence, Pistorius, PC Beneke, Ofentse Mogawane and Willie de Beer finished second in the final and Athletics South Africa president James Evans believed they had proved their worth.
"The 4x400m relay team are the World Championships silver medallists," Evans said this week.
"They again showed what they're capable of in Benin and they must go to London." – Sapa