By Mark Etheridge
in Cali, Colombia
A quartet of lifesavers will launch Team South Africa’s medal campaign at the World Games here on Friday.
The 2013 version of the Games gets underway with the official opening ceremony on Thursday and lifesaving will be the first sporting codes involving South Africa.
The four South Africans in action will be Paul van Achterbergh, Rudolf Venter, Carmell Billson and Guinivere Rogers.
They’ll take part in the 200-metre obstacle event at the lifesaving venue.
The 200m obstacle event involves four lengths of the 50m pool with swimmers having to negotiate two netted obstacles on each lap, eight in total. The netted obstacle extends to a depth of one metre under the surface, with swimmers having to dive under on each occasion.
“We’ve definitely got chance of making the final in the individual obstacle events and maybe a medal on the day,” said lifesaving coach Hanlie Ochse at the team training session on Wednesday.
“I’d say Paul and Megan would be our medal hopes first up.”
There’s also a 4x50m team obstacle event that will be contested by Team South Africa.
“Facilities here have been great and the team have trained well here,” said Ochse who is based at Bellville Lifesaving Club in the Western Cape and has been training lifesavers for close on 30 years.
She confirmed that the two best medal hopes for the 10-strong team were Armand Marais and Barjo van Niekerk, both of whom were at the last World Games in Taiwan four years ago.
“Armand’s favourite event is the 100m manikin with fins but his best event is the 50m event without fins where he placed third at last year’s world championships in Australia.
“And Barjo is also knocking on the door in the 50m, just a few splits slower than Armand, so it should be a great event.”