Team SA Chef de Mission Patience Shikwambana takes charge in the bridge. Athletes, support staff and media departed SA shores aboard Siyanqoba – We Conquer - the SAA Airbus 340-300 jet painted in the bright colours of the winning design by 21-year-old Stellenbosch University student, Adri le Roux. Photo: Courtesy Carol Shabalala @SimplyCarol8 on twitter

South Africans turned out in numbers say goodbye to Team South Africa as they jetted off to the Olympic Games in London this afternoon aboard Siyanqoba – “We Conquer” – the SAA Airbus 340-300 jet painted in the winning bright colours of the 21-year-old Stellenbosch University student, Adri le Roux.

Marsha Marescia, wearing the famed Makarapa she discussed with 702 Talk Radio’s David O’Sullivan (@702David) on Thursday afternoon, is all smiles aboard the jet plane departing home shores for the Olympic Games. Photo: Courtesy Carol Shabalala @SimplyCarol8 on twitterSports Minister, Fikile Mbalula, SASCOC management and celebrities were also at OR Tambo International airport to wish Team SA well, but it was the athletes taking to twitter to express their gratitude to supporters that made the day.

Inspirational Banyana Banyana captain, Amanda Dlamini (@Amanda_Dlamini9) tweeted: “Ok so my head is spinning now. Olympic Fever!! Just left HPC to O.R International… Nervous…”

SA Women’s Hockey star Jen Wilson (@JenWilson16) was struck by the support of sans at OR Tambo International: “At the airport. Quick press conference and supporters out in full force! Thanks for coming out South Africa! #TeamBehindTheTeam.”

Team-mate Dirkie Chamberlain (@dirkiewasha) tweeted: “Ready for lift off Team South Africa. Thank you for the beautiful send-off at OR Tambo Int Airport. London here we come!”

Illse Davids (‏@illsedavids) couldn’t hold it in any longer: “Awesome send-off ‪#livingthedream‬ ‪#olympics2012‬ ‪#London2012‬.”

Kate Woods (@katelouisewoods) couldn’t help chipping in: “Great excitement on the plane! Thank you Mzansi for a special send off! We hope to make u all proud!!”

A host of media was at the airport to capture the team send off, while a large number also travelled with the team to London. SuperSport anchor Carol Tshabalala (@SimplyCarol8) tweeted: “Marsha already getting into the spirit of things! On board with Team SA!”

Lead SA and SASCOC supported by the Department of Sport and Recreation will be hosting a send-off, which was carried live on radio and broadcast platforms.