By Mark Etheridge
in Brazzaville, Congo
Led by Olympic and Commonwealth Games swimming gold medallist Chad le Clos, Team South Africa joined roughly 50 nations at Friday night’s opening ceremony of the 2015 African Games here.
On a baking hot day which saw the temperature climb to almost 35 degrees Celsius, South Africa were the second team into the impressive national stadium.
Mozambique, hosts of the last version of the Games in Maputo, when they were still known as the All Africa Games, had the honour of being the first country to be greeted by a raucous crowd of at least 50,000.
They were followed by north Africa’s Algeria and the final team in were the hosts Congo, who showed a polite touch by allowing the team’s women athletes to enter first.
It was the first time that Le Clos had acted as national flag bearer. ‘I was very tired at the end with all the heat and the wait but it was still a huge honour and I’m very glad I was able to do it,’ he said.
‘I probably wouldn’t be allowed to do something like this at the Olympics or Commonwealth Games because of competition scheduling so it was great to be able to do it here in Africa.’
There’s no respite for Le Clos though as he’ll be in the pool again on Saturday morning early, practising one day ahead of the swimming competition.
In competition action on Friday, the badminton team beat Uganda 3-1 in their quarter-final to set up a semi-final clash.
And the gymnasts finally started their competition after days of various challenges.
The girls were involved in the all-around competition.
Said manager and SA Gymnastics Federation CEO Tseko Mogotsi: ‘All the girls did very well. We were up against Egypt, Namibia, Ethiopia and Angola on vault, uneven bars and beam.
‘We top the standing but official scores will only be known overnight.
‘Next up will be the men in the all-around team competition on Saturday.’
Fencing is the third sport featuring South Africans in action on Saturday.’