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Golden night for Team SA

Delhi: Natalie du Toit smashed the opposition and raced to gold and a CWG record in winning the S9 100m freestyle final and Chad le Clos won his second gold of the Championship.

Four days into their competition, South Africa’s swimmers have come good on their promise to SASCOC to bring back 10 medals from the Commonwealth Games, while Paralympian athlete Samkeli Radebe (T44 men’s 100m) and gymnast Jennifer Khwela won silver in the vault as the country’s overall medal tally climbed to 15.

A commanding performance in the 400m Individual Medley by the rising Chad le Clos gave the country its fifth gold in the water after Natalie du Toit had again showed why she’s an all-time Paralympic legend with a start-to-finish success in the S9 100m freestyle (1min 02.36sec), for her second gold. A third, on Saturday in the S9 100m butterfly, seems a formality.

Wendy Trott, viewed by many as a golden girl in the making, had to settle for silver on Thursday, but provided a courageous and classy challenge to the Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington in the women’s 800m freestyle final, touching the wall in 8:26.96 and giving the English swimmer two years notice that she’ll be gunning for glory at the London Games in 2012.

That the swimmers are the torch-bearers of Team South Africa is apparent when you look at the 10 medals they have won. Le Clos has won two gold and two bronze (one for the 4x200m free and one for his part in helping the 4x100m free squad to the final), Du Toit has two golds, Cameron van der Burgh a gold, Trott has that treasured silver and Roland Schoeman and Riaan Schoeman two bronzes.

Du Toit and Van der Burgh will likely add to that tally ÔÇô and swimming would have surpassed their target, and lay down the gauntlet to other codes to do the same.

Cameron van der Burgh put a mild case of ÔÇ£Delhi BellyÔÇØ ÔÇô he was the only person in the 150-strong Team SA squad to have these symptoms, which was the talking point of the English and Australian media ÔÇô to qualify joint fastest for Friday’s 50m breaststroke final in 27.86sec.

He has already got that 100m breaststroke gold and is having the time of his life at these Games. On Friday he’ll be looking to add the title of 50m Commonwealth champion to that of World Champion. The only one missing would be that of Olympic champion ÔÇô but London presents a chance to change all that.

Gideon Louw and Graeme Moore, two swimmers from the 4x100m freestyle side that won bronze, finished fourth and seventh, respectively, in the 100m free final, which was a disappointing return considering medal expectations in the camp were high.

Le Clos led from start to finish in the 400m IM and at one stage a South Africa 1-2 was on the cards as Riaan Schoeman moved into contention over the breaststroke leg, before he was swum out of it over the freestyle 100m leg.

Afterwards he pointed to his swim cap, possibly at his sponsor, but after these Games he is going to have people booking meetings with his manager for at 18, with poster boy looks and limitless potential.

Obviously, one has to keep feet on the ground, as difficult it is at the moment. For, in London at the 2012 Olympics there is one Michael Phelps who looms large as a rival ÔÇô and at this stage, understandably so, that is a bridge too far.

But, in the inked words on the palms of Van der Burgh, ÔÇ£Ke NakoÔÇØ. It’s our time to shine, and we must enjoy and soak up these moments.

Samkeli Radebe collected a silver medal in the T46 100m final on the athletics track, coming from off the pace to run into the medals, while David Roos tired inside the last 30m and was touched off for the bronze.

One other medal yesterday came from the men’s compound archery team, who lost to India by two points in their semi-final but then beat Australia by two points in the shoot-out for bronze.