Athletics blasted into action at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday, with Team South Africa sprinters Akani Simbine and Henricho Bruintjies both booking their spots in Monday’s 100-metre final, writes MARK ETHERIDGE in Gold Coast, Australia.
Bruintjies was in the second of three semi-finals and had a great second sector to end second behind Enoch Adegoke of Nigeria who won in 10.24 secs.
The Cape Town sprinter was 0.02 slower and just secured second with the third-placed athlete also given the same time.
‘I’ve been struggling with my start and also there’s a big gap between the warm-up and the actual race so I need to find something to counteract that,’ said Bruintjies.
‘But I’m feeling good and very excited to just get into this final. This is my first final of a major competition so I’m very excited to go out there and execute.’
Then it was Simbine who was in the final action of the evening at a packed Carrara Stadium.
He didn’t get the best of starts but used his power to close in fast in the final stages and when he hit the line in 10.12, just 0.02 behind winner Kemar Heyman of the Cayman Islands.
‘This competition is very different with the heats and the semi-final on the same day so it’s unknown territory.
‘The big thing to do with us being this side of the world and with so many time zones involved as well is just to conserve energy and get into the final.’
In the early afternoon heats Simbine and Bruintjies had both won their respective heats with times of 10.21 and 10.23 respectively.
Earlier, Tshepang Makhethe was the first of three South African field athletes in action.
He was up in the men’s hammer final but failed to make the top eight cut. His two throws measured 67.05 and 67.99 metres and he missed out on going further by one position.
‘I felt good with my warm-up throws yet the big one just wasn’t there today… but it will come,’ said the 22-year-old.
‘This is my first Commonwealth Games and it was great competing in front of a crowd like this – it was similar to [the] World Student Games in Taiwan last year. Now I’ll probably compete in a few league meetings to build up towards the World Cup.’
Then it was little Juanelie Meijer’s turn. In her second Commonwealth Games, she took fourth spot in the women’s T39 long jump. She opened with a 4.19m jump and that was her best of the day but she improved from the last Games, by 13 centimetres and one position.
‘It’s just amazing being here and I’m having the time of my life,’ she enthused. ‘With para-events part of the main programme, it’s totally inclusive and so good to promote our sport.
Last of the field events was Orazio Cremona in the shot put. Like Meijer, these are his second games and he came out, took one throw and left, his 19.24m effort was fifth best in his group and good enough for Monday’s final.
‘The distance wasn’t great but the ball slipped from my hand. So I would say it’s not a bad throw for a bad throw. But I’m feeling positive for tomorrow. Sure, it’s going to be tough but thank God I’m able to compete.’
Much, much earlier SA’s two race walkers, Lebogang Shange and Wayne Snyman had strutted their stuff along the Currumbin beachfront.
Neither made the top 10 though, Shange ninth in 1hr 23min 27sec, which was 3:53 behind Aussie gold medallist Dane Bird-Smith. Snyman was 14th with a time of 1:28:09.
Photo: Simbine in action during the heats on Sunday by Michael Dodge/Getty Images