By Mark Etheridge
in Brazzaville, Congo
Lise Olivier rode to her second bronze medal in the space of 24 hours with just six days left of competition at the African Games here on Saturday.
Olivier got bronze in the individual team time trial on Friday and was back in the hot seat for the women’s road race over 62.5km (five laps of 12.5km).
She was pipped by Mauritius rider Kim Le Court (who is incidentally her TimeFreight team-mate) and Nigeria’s Gladys Tombrapa with all three being given the same time of 1hr 47min 45sec.
’Nigeria put in six strong riders and Eritrea five but we were down to three when Cathy Colyn pulled out after just one lap with illness,’ said Oliver.
‘We went out hard and aggressive and really tried to make it hard. The plan was for me and Heidi [Dalton] to go with a kilometre to go.
‘We could see the others were tiring but then Zanele [Tshoko] dropped off the back with about 18km to go and then Heidi crashed two kilometres out. I must say Zanele really did her bit for the team, she attacked like crazy until she dropped.
‘So that left me and I am just not a sprinter. Still it’s good to get two bronze medals but I wouldn’t say I’m very happy.
But while Olivier sealed a podium spot, team-mate Dalton saw stars as she came down hard.
‘A rider went down right in front of me and there was nothing I could do,’ she said back at the village where she had freshened up, patched up and checked out by the team doctor.
‘Just a few bumps and bruises really but my head took a bit of a bang. I think the other girl came off worse because I landed right on top of her.
‘The race went pretty well but you have to be very careful because a lot of the riders aren’t accustomed to riding in big bunches.
‘It’s a pity though because I was feeling very strong, much stronger than in the time trial on Friday.’
To her credit though, Dalton got right back into the saddle and came in 26th of 36 riders in a time of 1:47:45.
The men’s team concludes the cycling action when all six South Africans line up for their 150km road race on Sunday morning.
At the sweatbox that goes by the name of the Revolution Hall in central Brazzaville, the SA table tennis team lost their two matches of the day.
First they went down 3-0 to host nation Congo in the morning’s quarter-finals and then they lost a close fifth-sixth place play-off match to Ethiopia, 3-2.
Daisha Patel lost her two singles games, Khanyisile Madlala won her two games but the combination of Madlala and Zodwa Maphanga went out 3-2 in a closely fought doubles match.
‘Baby’ of the team, 19-year-old Caitlin Lingeveldt wasn’t in the starting line-up on Saturday as she was nursing a sore arm.
‘I think the girls were in too much of a hurry and not patient enough today,’ said manager/coach Neville Parker.
‘I would have hoped we’d beat Ethiopia because they are ranked about 8-10th in Africa and we are fifth.
‘Now we will play either Angola or Mauritius for the seventh/eighth place on Sunday morning.’
Team South Africa’s boxers return home with two bronze medals from the African Games here… but that’s not all they’ll go home with.
They also won the heart of the local crowd on the penultimate night of competition on Friday night as the most promising of the five SA boxers, Sibusiso Bandla was somehow deemed by judges to have lost his semi-final match-up.
He was up against the host nation Congo’s Moussiese Francel in the 49kg (light-flyweight) division.
He lost 2-1 but not even the crowd were fooled by the one-sided nature of the contest, going so far as to booing and chasing their own fighter out of the ring, with the police having to step in and protect him and his entourage.
‘The crowd were even saying that “the SA boxer is fighting against the referee”,’ said team manager/coach Johan Prinsloo.
‘He lost 2-1 so even with the nature of the judging, one judge gave him the fight, despite him being warned without caution in the first round for ducking too low and again in the third (without caution) for holding. That saw him losing two points just like that.’
Prinsloo has been around the boxing ring a few times and can see talent where there’s talent.
‘This guy has so much potential but it’s the same old story about the lure of big money. He must be well looked after by SA boxing and kept away from the wrong people.’
The only other SA boxer in contention was Bathabile Ziqubu in the women’s 51kg division. She took on Algeria’s Bouchinwe Souhila, the continent’s second-ranked woman in this division.
‘She boxed well but the Algerian girl just had too much experience and technical expertise for her. We must remember that Bathabile probably hasn’t had many more than 30 fights while Souhila will have fought well over 100 times.
‘That’s the problem with our women’s boxing… there just isn’t enough of a talent pool to ensure new opposition for them.’
Looking ahead and the AIBA World Championships take place in Qatar next month and a promising outcome from these Games is the possibility of new exposure for SA’s boxers.
‘The Angolan boxing president spoke to me yesterday and has invited us for an all-expenses paid tournament. We just have to say when we are available so I’ll be speaking to our president, Andile Mofu, as soon as we get back.
‘So although I would have liked to have won more medals, I’m still happy with these two bronzes and the exposure was good. Now we just need more,’ concluded the Pretoria trainer.
Jessica Choga reports that it was a hive of activity for the SA men’s and women’s beach volleyball teams at the Sporte Complexe on Saturday as they played quarter-finals and qualified for the semis.
The girls’ team comprising Palesa Masinga and Randy Williams played a smooth game against Guinea in the quarter-finals and won 2-0. This automatically qualified them for the semi-final where they faced Rwanda.
Rwanda had a strong team but our South African duo came to the party and battled it out to qualify for the finals.
‘It was a good match and we are delighted that we have qualified for the finals. We hope to correct our mistakes and play a better game in the finals,’ said Masinga.
Meanwhile the men’s pair of Clinton Stemmet and Leo Williams beat Burundi in the quarter finals and proceeded to the semi-finals.
Volleyball coach Donovan Nair still believes his team can do better if they apply better tactics against their opponents. “Yes the girls have won but I still think their opponents are weaker and Team SA should do better than this.”
The track and field programme is scheduled to get into action at the Main Stadium on Sunday morning with heats, writes Etheridge.
Programme details though seem in a constant state of flux with a final decision going to be made at 9am.
At this stage SA have nine athletes in first-day action.
They are Roscoe Engel and Anaso Jobodwana (100-metres), Antonio Alkana (110m hurdles), Patience Ntshingila and Zinzi Chabangu (triple jump), Justine Palframan (400m), Russell Tucker (discus), Ofentse Mogowane (400m) and Dumisani Hlaselo (1500m).