By Mark Etheridge
in Nanjing, China
Our second triathlete’s medal hopes were washed away in the whirlpool start of the event at the Xuanwu Lake here on Monday.
Nathan le Roux was one of only two Team South Africa athletes in the three-phase code at these Games.
Jayme-Sue Vermaas had finished 18th in the girls’ event on Sunday and Le Roux had been hoping for top 10 in the boys’ event.
But a helter-skelter swim sunk his chance from the start and he was only able to trail in 27th of 32 finishers.
Explained code coach, John Rumbelow: ‘The Russian swimmer forced him right over to the left and then swam right over him. Poor Nathan ended up being like a submarine and any triathlete knows that when that happens you lose your whole rhythm and have to play catch up the whole way.’
The Hudson Park (East London) Grade 11 pupil exited the 750m swim in 29th spot, regained a few spots on the 20km bike ride and swopped a few places on the 5km run, but by that stage his race had been run.
He ended with a total time of 1hr 01min 31sec, +6:48 off winner Ben Dijkstra of England.
‘Going into the race it was all looking good,’ reflected Rumbelow. ‘He did nothing different in training, the preparation was all fine, he was fine and energised for the competition. But you can’t plan for something like this.’
Rumbelow went to to say that more of our young triathletes are going to have to follow the lead of their senior counterparts and opt for the overseas route.
‘It’s working for Richard Murray, Henri Schoeman and Gill Sanders … there they are continuously exposed to this level of tough competition. Maybe even somewhere like Egypt which is still in Africa but close enough to all the competition in Europe.’
At the previous Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, Wian Sullwald made top 10 and has since gone on to notch a World Cup win (co-incidentally, also in China) and represent South Africa at the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
‘Yes, we were very much hoping that Nathan could emulate Wian here and finish in the top 10 but that was not to be,’ concluded Rumbelow.
Gymnastics action moved into its second day with Mammule Rankoe in action in the first sub-division of women’s artistic qualifying. She ended eighth of 14 competitors after her four apparatus.
Her scores were 12.350, 11.250, 10.600 and 10.400 for the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor respectively. That gave her a total of 44.600, as Britain’s Elissa Downie topped the qualifying round with a score of 53.500.
Said coach Shirley Watson: ‘She had one fall on the floor but she had a very clean bar, beautiful in fact.
‘The rest of her stuff was good and without looking at the points total our focus was more on her performance and personally I think she’s learnt a lot.’
‘I need to add about five or six difficulties but since Africa Championships in Tshwane in March I’ve already put in about three or four,’ said Rankoe, who turns 15 on Friday.’
‘My next big competition will be trials ahead of the the Top-Gym competition coming up in Belgium later this year,’ said the Grade Nine pupil from Roodepoort on Gauteng’s West Rand.
Meanwhile in morning swimming action at the Natotorium, South Africa ensured that they will be involved in at least six events in the evening.
Joshua Steyn will be a busy boy after making the 200m freestyle final (1:50.79) and 100m butterfly semi-final (53.74).
Then, Christopher Reid swims the 400m Individual Medley final after a 2:04.19 qualifying swim and he’s also reserve finalist for the 100m back after a 55.99 qualifying effort.
Jarred Crous qualified for the 100m breaststroke final on Sunday’s opening day of action.
Our women’s 4x100m Medley Relay team are also into the final after qualifying seventh fastest (fourth in their heat) with a time of 4:15.13. That team consists of Justine McFarlane, Marlies Ross, Nathania van Niekerk and Michelle Weber.
Out at Laoshan Park, two of our cyclists were in action in the road time trial. Ivan Venter and Lebo Pebane took part, although both are more suited to the BMX code which will be raced on Tuesday.
Venter ended 12th. The race was ridden over a three-kilometre course and Venter did well to end just outside the top 10, clocking 5min 20.24sec and +10.80 off the winning time.
Pebane finished 29th of 31 finishers, 1:45.68 adrift. ‘She had a fall at the halfway mark,’ explained manager Margot Gerber. ‘It happened at the turn when her bike slipped on the white road markings which were very slippery because of the rain.’
Picture by Wessel Oosthuizen/SASPA. Pictures of Team South Africa’s campaign at the 2014 Youth Olympics are free for downloading on www.sascocimages.co.za.