By Mark Etheridge
South Africa’s swimmers ended their All Africa Games on Saturday the way they started it on Monday… with gold!
After Karin Prinsloo’s victory in the opening final on Monday, it was left up to the men’s 4×100-metre team of Charl Crous, Darren Murray, Chad le Clos and Gideon Louw to put the seal on a magnificent championships for Team SA.
The team ended with another 13 medals on Saturday, seven of them gold (their most golds on one day here), five silver and a bronze.
That tally boosted the total haul for Team SA to 102 for the Games so far ÔÇô 47 gold, 27 silver and 28 bronze.
The South African anthem rang out on no less than 33 occasions as the team celebrated gold in the swimming competition, even the locals could sing along at the end of the six days.
Swimming SA’s head coach Graham Hill was a happy man as he looked back on the team’s performance in the pool. “We came here to perform and we performed well,” he said somewhat understatedly.
The swimmers amassed a total of 73 medals (33 gold, 22 silver and 18 bronze) compared to 53 at the last Games in Algeria four years ago.
“It could probably have been more medals but we had to do a fair bit of juggling because we were scared of events not happening so we wanted to make sure everyone got a swim.
“If I have to single one swimmer out it would have to be Chad [Le Clos] with four Olympic qualifying times. This guy is going to be such a force in world swimming,” concluded Hill.
South Africa’s golden men and women on Saturday were the 4x100m relay team, para-swimmers Natalie du Toit (200m IM S6-10, 2:35.01) and Kevin Paul (200m IM S6-10, 2:19.05), Mandy Loots (200m butterfly, 2:12.46), Gideon Louw (50m freestyle, 22.34), Chad le Clos (200m IM, 2:00.70) and Roxanne Tammage (1500m freestyle, 17:03.22).
There were silvers for Emily Gray, Achmat Hassiem, Bianca Meyer, Loots and┬á Darian Townsend and the sole bronze went to Natasha de Vos.
In other sport, the netball team’s unbeaten run came to an end when they ran into a tough Ugandan outfit and went down 35-56. Uganda are now the only unbeaten side in this code.
Sunday sees our cyclists in action again in the men’s and women’s road race. The women will ride 60km and the men 140km and the chances of medals are good in both events.
There should also be a boatload of medals in the sailing which wraps up on Sunday.
Our track and field athletes will also be in action on Sunday although the team has a distinctly weaker look to it than the original line-up. Of the original 29 athletes, eight will not make the trip, including big names like Cornel Fredericks, Oscar Pistorius, Lehann Fourie and Luvo Manyonga. Thuso Mpuang, who was at world championships in Daegu last week, arrived at the Games but left due to injury.
Programming for athletics events has been haphazard at best and only the throwers are expected to be in action on Sunday.