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SA still looking to shine

By Mark Etheridge

As Asia marvelled at a rare full solar eclipse Wednesday the sun also went down on a few more South African hopes at the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung City.

Out of the competition went snooker player Francois Ellis, and mini-trampoline gymnast Lucky Radebe.

Ellis was a frustrated man as he lost in straight frames (3-0 in a best-of-five format)  to local Chinese Taipei player Shu Hu Lin in the first round of 16.

“I just didn’t play well,” admitted Pretoria’s Ellis. “My foreign roommate was out most of the night and I only got about an hour’s sleep. But I’m not making excuses, it just wasn’t my day. I had a chance to win each frame but just couldn’t finish it off. I lost the first frame on the black ball, the second I needed a snooker and the third I lost on the blue ball.

“What makes it more difficult to bear is that my opponent was a substitute for a better player who had to pull out so I had a good draw but it’s too late to do anything about it”.

Tomorrow South Africa’s Durban duo of┬á Apsra Panchoo and Jason Theron continue the challenge in the nine-ball format of the cue-sports.

Radebe, cheered on by an enthusiastic South African support crew in the stands of the impressive Kaohsiung Arena, placed sixth out of nine in the qualifying round of the mini-trampoline.

Gymnasts sprint down a narrow lane before hitting the trampoline at high pace before trying to cram as many twists, turns and tumbles into the few seconds they are airborne.

His first jump scored a 33.00, the poorest of the first round but he made up for it with a 35.100 second attempt, fifth best of the second attempts.

That gave him a total of 68.100 compared to top qualifier Kiril Ivanov of Russia (73.100).

His sixth spot put the former Alexandra. Johannesburg athlete into the evening’s final where the current African champion wasn’t disgraced to place seventh out of eight.

On the waterskiing front, one of the three sports where South Africa are regarded to have strong medal chances (the others are Sevens rugby and lifesaving), the day was a stop-start affair.

Said team manager Eugene Sam: “It started OK but then the pulling boat had an engine problem so that had to be swopped for a new engine and then in the late afternoon the wind came up.”

Cape Town estate agent Sam Martin will only know her fate in the slalom/tricks event Thursday morning as scores still had to be tallied.

Of the barefoot brigade, who get towed at speeds up to 76km/h, Pretoria’s Andre de Villiers was lying ninth of the 25 competitors and guaranteed a place in the final and Heinrich Sam second in the tricks department.

Waveboarder Shaun Faccio faces a ski-off to make the next round but Sam (senior) is optimistic of his chances.

Also yesterday Cape Town’s Siyoli Lusaseni, knocked out in the first round of the squash competition on Tuesday, had a “friendly” against an Irish opponent. Aisling Blake is currently ranked 31st in the world so Lusaseni’s 3-2 win will give her some comfort after her loss.

Thursday sees the start of the pool category of the lifesaving code as well as the jumping section of the waterskiing.
Main medal hopes for South Africa now appear to rest with the world champion Rugby Sevens code who play on Friday and Saturday.