By Mark Etheridge
The all-conquering swimming contingent may have departed but their Team South Africa colleagues have stepped into the breach and the medals count mounted at the All Africa Games here on Sunday.
The swimmers got the team’s medal hunt off to a superb start with 73 medals in total and on Sunday it was another water sport who came to the party in the shape of sailing. That code came to conclusion and saw eight more medals added to the South African total.
Four of them were gold for young David Wilson (13) and Emma Clark in the Optimist class and Bridget Clayton in the Laser Radial while Port Elizabeth twins Eben and Johan Viviers shared gold in the 420 class. Silvers went to Rudi McNeil (Laser standard) and Stefano Marcia (Laser Radial) and Jess Deary (Laser Radial) while Ruben Heard picked up bronze in the Optimist, his final year in the class.
At least 17 medals joined the overall score on Sunday to make it 119 in total (53 gold, 34 silver and 32 bronze) and another water-based sport in the shape of canoeing’s final results late on Sunday is expected to further boost the numbers.
Apart from sailing’s eight there were five in cycling, two in badminton (bronzes by virtue of Stacey Doubell and the doubles combo of Dorian James and Willem Viljoen losing in the semi-finals) and two more in athletics.
Our cyclists also wrapped up their competition and added another five medals to the team total. Lynnette Burger added to her bronze in the time trial when she won gold in the women’s road race over 60km and she was followed over the line by time trial winner Lise Olivier, both clocking 1hr 30min 44sec. Team-mate Leandri du Toit was seventh in 1:39.45. She’s still getting over the effects of concussion suffered at World Student Games last month.
ÔÇ£Personally, this win means a lot. This was probably the last time I’ll get to represent South Africa, so going out like this is quite emotional,” said the Team Nashua Toyota captain. “It might not earn International Cycling Union ranking points, but it helps give SA women’s cycling the recognition it deserves. We are not only the top women’s nation in Africa; our women are beginning to really succeed overseas now too. It is a good time for SA women’s cycling!ÔÇØ
The men then made a clean sweep of the medals in their race over 140km. Nolan Hoffman, who didn’t score in the men’s team time trial due to a ‘mechanical’, won the event in 3:36.59 followed three seconds later by teammates Jay Thomson, Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg (he won the individual time trial during the week), and Darren Lill.
Said Hoffman, who rides for the Tasol-GT outfit: “It was hard racing straight out of the blocks. We had a plan beforehand to have at least two guys in any of the breaks after the first hour of racing, during which I was hanging in there, we had a split and there was a bunch of about 14 guys.
“We then re-assessed and took in turns to make the pace. We decided to push really hard for the last three of the 11 laps and we whittled it down to about six guys and then we attacked up the climb of the second last lap and then it was just us four.
“Obviously it was going to be easier for me when it came to just us four, me being a sprinter but I think the guys were also happy to give it me seeing as I had hung in there for so long,” said the 26-year-old┬á Pretoria based rider, originally from Fanschhoek in the Western Cape.
“In terms of prestige this is certainly one of the big ones to win. The Games are well known and it’s great to have this on my CV. Now it’s the Amashova from Pietermaritzburg to Durban for me and now I’m really psyched to do well after this win.”
The track and field competition also finally got underway, later than scheduled after programming complications and Team SA were immediately on the medals table with silver and bronze in the men’s shot put final.
There was no messing with giant 138kg Egyptian Yasser Farag who won with a┬á 63.20 heave but it helped inspire Victor Hogan to a personal best of 62.60m. He comes from Kleinmond in the Western Cape but there’s nothing small about the 120kg 22-year-old.
“It’s nice to throw a personal best, conditions were good with the right sort of wind tonight, now I can relax and just hang around and support the rest of the team,” he said after improving on his previous best of 61.52 in Bellville.
Taking bronze behind Hogan was Dainfern in Gauteng’s Russel Tucker in 55.98m.
In other codes our netball team sunk to their second defeat on the trot, after having gone down 35-56 to Uganda on Saturday they lost a tight match to Zambia, going down 52-51 in a match that saw some of the worst officiating of the tournament, prompting management of almost all the sides to lodge a protest.
In other team events the women’s football side have reached the semi-finals after a 2-2 draw against Ghana. They now face Cameroon in the semi. Word from the team is that had the team brought their A side to the Games they would have been confident of going through to the final but now they face an uphill task as the stars of the side were in Ethiopia where they qualified for next year’s Olympics.