By Mark Etheridge
The medals continued to mount for Team South Africa here on Saturday’s third day of the 2nd African Youth Games.
After the team had won seven medals on Friday, the first day of competition proper after Thursday night’s opening ceremony at the national stadium, the team added another 13 on Saturday to give Team SA 20 medals to date.
Swimming provided six of the seven medals on Friday but it was sevens rugby who had the honour of snatching the first medal of Saturday.
And what an honour it was as the Under-18 boys whitewashed Kenya 60-0 in the final.
What was all the more impressive was that the side, under manager Marius Schoeman and coach Gavin Beresford won all five of their games without conceding a single point.
That was a point emphasised by Schoeman afterwards as his youngsters celebrated in the background and joined the beaten finalists for a picture (see right). “I didn’t expect to beat Kenya by this margin,” he said.
“We used yesterday’s pool game against Kenya as something of a warm-up for today’s final,” he said. “And we clicked really well. I always wanted our defence to be the key and a look at the scoreboard proves that.”
Going forward and Schoeman was full of hope. “There are some very good guys in this team and we’ll probably be signing three or four of these up for the Sevens Academy in Stellenbosch. Most of them are signed to their various unions in any case but we’ll have to work around that.”
For the record, after the Ivory Coast failed to pitch for the opening fixtures, the sevens side beat Kenya 31-0, Madagascar 52-0, neighbours Namibia 44-0 in the semi-final and then the big one, 60-0. That makes for an impressive tally of 187-0.
The next medal came from Enrique Christians in the weightlifting code as he got bronze in the 50kg category. That means that both our weightlifters here will go home with medals after Kaylynn Kloppers won gold in her division on Friday.
Updates on other codes in action (and their medals) on Saturday:
Once again the swimmers provided for the depth in the medals table and it was another nine in the pool on Saturday.
Five of those were of golden hue with Tatjana Schoenmaker (2:22.91, 200m Individual Medley), Alard Basson (56.65, 100m butterfly), Rita Naude (28.24, 50m ‘fly and 27.61, 50m free) and Bryan Gray (200m, 2:06.97).
There were also silvers from Samantha Randle (2:25.46, 200m IM), a silver (2:10.62, 200m IM) and two bronzes from Daniel Ronaldson (56.99, 100m ‘fly and 200m free, 1:57.39)
Another golden moment came from the multi-talented Unelle Snyman who had qualified for the afternoon finals earlier in the day.
Already a national age-group netball player, Snyman (in action above, blue suit) took on her Tunisian opponent, Narjes Ben Hmida, in the -78kg division.
After the four-minutes of action, Snyman proved too powerful in a toughly contested match.
Said coach Mark Desfountain: “She’s delighted with her win. This was what we’ve been working on for some time now. She’s already qualified for the Youth Olympic Games in China later this year and this will be great experience. We worked on her moves well before the fight and she used her superior reach advantage to keep her opponent from being able to work any of her own moves.”
Our other two judoka were also in action, with young William Redpath providing for a quick finish in his -66kg division. Egged on by father Vincent, also at the Games in a technical official capacity, he ended matters with a strangulation hold after just one minute. He went on to win two and lose two fights, losing his bronze medal bout as well.
Then Christiaan Boshoff went down in his match-up with a Madagascan opponent after three warnings and ended the day with a 1-2 record.
Our other woman in the squad, Courtney Read, will go home to Midrand without getting to step onto the mat after a technical problem saw too many women in the squad eligible to fight.
Sunday sees mixed team events, which is expected to provide great experience for the South Africans but nothing in the way of medals.
Saturday also saw our two players in more action. Jade Sassman had a walkover in her first game against Kenya and then beat Democratic Congo, also in straight sets before beating Seychelle’s Zahira Khattab 15-13 11-8 11-8.
“I’m happy with my form right now,” said the 16-year-old Bonteheuwel, Cape Town player.
“I’ll be satisfied if I can make the semi-finals, which will mean a bronze medal,” said the seventh-seeded player.
It’s her fifth year of playing table tennis and she sure gets to travel around, having visited five different countries in the last two months.
Morning action saw Kamagelo Mathole win his morning match against Nicholas Esther of Seychelles in straight sets 11-4 11-8 11-7.
He was due to play Egyptian top seed Mahmoud Fathy in the late match. “I’m happy with my game at the moment… I’ve played him once but he beat me.”
One thing was for sure and that was the fact that the Atteridgeville, North Gauteng athlete was guaranteed the support of the local crowd. “I often come and play up here and won the recent Gaborone Open so the crowd are quite used to me now.”
London Olympian Dorian James’ charges played their way to the silver medal against Nigeria on Saturday.
They had reached the final after beating Mauritius in the semi-final. Prior to that they had beaten Egypt on Friday evening and won both their two matches before that.
Two of our four pugilists were in action on Saturday.
Both of them took on Cote ‘d Ivoire (Ivory Coast) opponents and there was one win and one loss.
Edwin Tshabalala won his light-flyweight bout (49kg) but our light-welterweight contender, Azinga Fuzile lost, also to Ivory Coast in the 60kg division.
Our only women’s fighter, Julienne Smith will learn who she takes on in the 60kg division on Sunday morning.
Pictures: Wessel Oosthuizen/SASPA