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Coppinger gets Team SA going

By Mark Etheridge

Dublin, Hilton, Birmingham, Leeds, Fish Hoek …. it doesn’t matter where it came from but all those locations combined to give South Africa their first small taste of success at the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan on Tuesday.

There’s still no medal to add to the five won at the last games in Duisberg, Germany four years ago but at least Stephen Coppinger got on the winning trail.

Competing in the men’s squash competition, Coppinger had a late boost when a draw shuffle saw him being moved up to 16th seed.

He came up against German Jens Schoor and breezed through in straight sets, 11-5 11-7 and 11-3. That earned him a Last 16 berth against Egypt’s Omar Mosaad in the Last 16 round where he went down in three tight fought sets.

Coppinger, 25, has a real global footprint to him, having been born in Dublin, gone to school at Hilton College, Pietermaritzburg, studied at Birmingham, and is now based alternatively between Fish Hoek, Cape Town and Leeds in the UK.

Earlier squash counterpart Siyoli Lusaseni was not so lucky, having drawn the world’s fifth best player in the shape of England’s Allison Waters.

But Lusaseni fought bravely, before going down 11-6 11-5 and 11-0. “I fought hard but it’s the highest ranked player I’ve ever come up against,” said Cape Town’s Lusaseni, who is ranked No 158 in the world right now. “But what an experience, I learnt so much from her.

“I can see now how important it is to be patient. I handed her five unforced errors in the final set and you just can’t do that against a player of that calibre.”

Lusaseni was still waiting to hear if there was going to be a Plate event that she could gain further experience at. But she’s also got a lot on her plate .. she gets married in Cape Town on August 8.

Elsewhere around a sweltering Kaohsiung City, gymnast  Lebogang Ramokopolwe had a mixed bag in the tumbling heats, coming down awkwardly on his head in his first pass and scoring just 29.600 points to put him last in the round. He improved on his second pass and scored 33.800 for a total of 63.400.

That still made him wooden spoonist but due to two withdrawals, all eight went through to the finals.

Once again his first pass saw him land flat on his back for a poor score of 27.300 but he bounced back for a 33.900 to score 61.200 but leagues away from winner Andrey Krylov of Russia’s whose two efforts totalled 75.70. Ramokopelwa’s gymnastics counterpart Lucky Radebe is in the double mini-trampolene qualification round.

In the ten-pin bowling, it was singles day and Guy Caminsky and Gaye Mack both carried forward six games of indifferent from from the mixed doubles on Monday through to the singles.

Neither made it into the top 10 posititions they needed to go further, Caminsky finishing about 220 pins away from top 10 material and Mack around 250 over the 12 rounds yesterday.

Wednesday sees the start of the cue-sports with Pretoria snooker player Francois Ellis opening his campaign against… in a best of five format.

Then it’s Durban’s Jason Theron in the nine-ball pool format which is a race to 11 frames. Nine-ball is one of Taiwan’s national sports so both Theron and Apsra (subs correct) Panchoo are up against it.