By Mark Etheridge
Team South Africa leave Botswana victorious after the 2nd African Youth Games here on Saturday.
The young team were involved in only track and field on Saturday’s final day which also featured the closing ceremony at the national stadium.
Three more medals came South Africa’s way as the sun blazed down on another warm, cloudless day.
Starting the day with 89 medals, there were medals for Gezelle Magerman, Kyle Appel and Leandri Geel in morning action.
That saw South Africa end with 92 medals (40 gold, 25 silver and 27 bronze). The official medals table had Egypt ending with a total of 92 and South Africa 96 but what matters is that South Africa top the table and all their medals were methodically cross-checked.
The inaugural Games in Morocco four years ago had Tunisia winning with 58 medals.
After Taylon Bieldt (gold medallist in the 110m hurdles) had won the 400m hurdles B final on Saturday in 63.03sec it was up to Magerman to boost the medal table with a win in the 400m.
She dominated the early stages before just holding off her Nigerian rival over the final 20m to win in 60.10.
“That was my most stressful race ever,” said the 17-year-old La Rochelle, Paarl schoolgirl. “I had a good start and led over the first hurdle. My first 200m were good but I had a problem with my trailing leg over the fourth hurdle but recovered nicely over the remaining hurdles.”
“My personal best before today was 60.17 that I ran at seniors in Potchefstroom a few weeks back. Now I must go back to write exams but I’ve been studying while I was here in the village.”
Next medal came from Kyle Appel in the boys’ 200m final. Appel had run 21.15 in the semi-final but the Brackenfell blitz stopped the clocks at 21.07 in lane four.
“I ended up third but my time was still better than my previous best of 21.12,” beamed Appel.
The final medal came from Leandri Geel in the girls’ discus and it was fitting that her 47:08 effort was gold as this young team of potential Olympians look ahead to Tokyo 2012 and, who knows, even Rio 2016.
Geel is a pupil at Ho├½rskool Monument in Krugersdorp and her personal best is 49.26. She’s also already qualified for Junior World Championships in Eugene, Oregon. She’s also currently ranked third in the world for her age-group.
For Tshepo Skosana there was final day heartache as he lead the boys 110m hurdles final only to catch the third last hurdle and go sprawling through the next hurdle. To his credit, he picked himself up and even leapt over the final hurdle to complete his event.
That pretty much summed up this team of young talent, they fought until the end and are sure to continue that trend around the globe in years to come.