Team South Africa started the week with nine Commonwealth Games medals in the bag on Monday, 9 April. Here’s here how all those in action performed.
Men’s high jump, Qualifying: Reigning world U18 champion Breyton Poole had his biggest day on the seniors stage but failed to make it through to the final. Needing a 2.27-metre height to guarantee a place in the final, the Cape Town youngster (personal best 2.25m) cleared 2.18 with his first jump but was unable to make the grade with the bar set at 2.21. “Sure it’s a tough pill to swallow but I’ve got many years ahead of me,’ said Poole. ‘I was busy with my take-off but the moment I jumped they said it was an automatic no-jump because the time was up. I still have much more to improve on and work on. But I’ll be back… for now just being in present of these legends of high jump is an honour, as it is to represent South Africa.’
Men’s 110m hurdles, qualifying: There were no Monday morning blues for Antonio Alkana as he breezed into Tuesday evening’s final as an automatic qualifier. He ended second in a time of 13.32, behind England’s Andrew Pozzi (13.29). Alkana turns 28 on Thursday and would surely like nothing better than to celebrate as a medallist? ‘I’m happy with the result even though my start wasn’t as good as it was in the warm-up. Conditions were hot but that’s just the way we want it here,’ said Alkana.
Men’s T38 100m Final: South Africa’s finest para-athletes saw to it that another two medals came the country’s way. There was no stopping Aussie Evan O’Hanlon as he won in 11.09 but Dyan Buis and Charl du Toit has a battle royal before Buis dipped for the line in 11.33 and Du Toit (racing as a T37 athlete in this event) clocked 11.35 for a brand-new world record. In fact, the 11.41sec previous best that he ran at Tuks during national champs earlier this year, still has to be ratified as a world record. ‘These guys pulled me along,’ said Du Toit. ‘I was hoping for a good time because I knew Dyan is in great shape. This might me be last international 100m race but I’m not sure. First I’m going to think how we’ll celebrate tonight. The third SA athlete in the race, Union Sekailwe, was fifth in 11.67. ‘Oh it was great running in front of this crowd,’ said the athlete who sported his customary bleached mohawk hairstyle. ‘It’s a lovely fast track and gave me a season’s best. Now I must focus on a 100 and 400m race in Spain three weeks from now.’
Women’s 1500m heats: Caster Semenya cruised into Tuesday’s final in consummate fashion, just as she was expected to do. She coasted around the first few laps before taking the bell in a time of 3min 03min. She slowly pulled away with around 200m to go with the rest of the field floundering in her way to win in 4min 05.86sec. Behind her the second and third place athletes posted a personal and season’s best respectively. Semenya’s time in the heat wasn’t that far of Hellen Obiri’s Games record of 4:04.43 set in Glasgow four years ago!
Men’s shot put final: Orazio Cremona took sixth spot with a heave of 20.51 on his fourth attempt. That was 90cm behind winner Thomas Walsh of New Zealand. The big man from Gauteng was brutally honest though. ‘Obviously a bit disappointed. It was a good distance but not good enough for a medal at a Championships but congrats to the other guys. I had a few technical issues… they haven’t been here all season! “Nice” for them to crop up at a championships! The rhythm just wasn’t there tonight.’
Men’s 100m Final: GOLD! Akani Simbine rocketed to South Africa’s fourth gold medal of the night as he won the men’s blue riband final! And it got even better as he led compatriot Henricho Bruintjies to a glorious 1-2 in the final, relegating favourite Yohan Blake of Jamaica into third. Simbine clocked 10.03 in the muggy Carrara Stadium conditions. Starting in lane eight he didn’t get off to the greatest star but was going away in horse racing parlance at the depth. On his outside Bruintjies was being sucked along in the slipstream and dipped Blake for silver in 10.17, 0.02sec clear… a memorable close to the night for the rainbow nation.
Women’s Pairs, Section A, Round One: There were broad smiles on the Broadbeach rinks as South Africa’s Nicolene Neal and singles bronze medallist Colleen Piketh got the day off to a great start with a 23-6 win over Jersey. Down after one end, they were never behind after that as they steadily added to their scores.
Mixed B2/B3 Pairs, Section A, Round Five: There was yet another win for Princess Schroeder and Philippus Walker as they saw Wales off to the tune of 11-8. They were up after five ends and never looked back. They’ll now play Wales in the semi-final stages.
Women’s Fours Final: South Africa, represented by Esme Kruger, Nicolene Neale, Johanna Snyman and Elma Davis, went down 18-16 to the host nation. SA were up 3-0 after two ends but once Australia got going they never took their foot off the pedal and inched their way to victory. Defeat for SA, but still, it means there’s another medal in the bag for the team, the second silver for the rainbow nation and took the tally into double figures.
Men’s Singles, Section D, Round One: Petrus Breitenbach beat Malta’s Brendan Aquilina 21-17.
Men’s Singles, Section D, Round Two: Breitenbach beat Welshman Daniel Salmon 31-15.
Men’s Fours, Section B, Round One: South Africa’s Gerry Baker, Jason Evans, Rudi Jacobs and Morgan Muvhango went down 19-7 to their Indian opponents.
Women’s Triples, Section D, Round One: This one was a thrashing of note as South Africans Elma Davis, Esme Kruger, Johanna Snyman) annihilated Niue, the final score being 40-7 against the tiny Pacific Island that had a population of just over 1500 three years ago.
Women’s triples, Section D, Round Two: South Africa (Elma Davis, Esme Kruger, Johanna Snyman) went down against Northern Ireland by the narrowest of margins, losing 13-14.
Open B6/B7/B8 Triples, Section A, Round 5: South Africa (Tobias Botha, Willem Viljoen, Christopher Patton) took Scotland 15-7 to book themselves a place in the semi-finals.
Women’s Pool A: South Africa vs Wales: Goals either side of halftime, saw Sheldon Rostron’s charges triumphing 2-0. Cape Town’s Candice Manuel opened the scoring in the 25th minute and then Jade Mayne made it 2-0 in the 41st. Both were field goals. Manuel will be well-pleased to find the net after the frustration last year when she had to return early from the Continental Cup in Egypt with a broken right hand.
Men’s Queen’s Prize Pairs finals, Day One: After the disappointment of the men’s 10m air rifle duo it was Team South Africa’s Petrus Haasbroek and Jacobus du Toit who punched (fired?) above their weight to end the day as second of 16 teams. The pair had the same sore as leaders England – 299 – but the fact that they had two less V-Bulls puts them in second spot.
Men’s 50m Freestyle, Heats: Brad Tandy flew off the blocks and powered down the lane to win his heat in 21.78, just 0.02 seconds off Ben Proud’s Games record. But Proud responded with a new Games record of 21.45. Tandy is second fastest going into the semi-finals. Ryan Coetzee scratched from the event.
Semi-finals: Tandy, who had finished sixth at the Rio Olympics, has one of the fastest starts in swimming. Again he got off the blocks and led all the way to win his semi-final in 21.92, slightly slower than the morning’s 21.78. ‘I felt it could be a little quicker but the main aim was to make the final. We’ll have a look at the footage and see where to go.’ Only Ben Proud, with another Games record 21.30, qualified with a faster time.
Men’s 200m Backstroke, Heats: Martin Binedell won his heat in 1.57.92, faster than his entry time of 1:58.20, to qualify for the final as the No1 seed. Lying in wait is a trio of Australians. Jarryd Baxter finished fourth in his heat in 2:02.17, which left him 13th overall and missing out on the final. Luan Grobbelaar finished sixth in his heat with a 2:06.10, for 18th overall and failing to progress to the final.
Final: Binedell followed up his morning PB of 1:57.92, which had made him the fastest qualifier with another PB in the final, clocking 1:57.87. However, he was always chasing the leaders and the podium was a clean sweep of Australians in Mitch Larkin (1:56.10), Brad Woodward (1:56.57) and Josh Beaver (1:57.04).
Men’s S7 Freestyle, Heat: Christiaan Sadie is eyeing a medal after qualifying second fastest in the heat and all six swimmers will do it again tonight. Sadie touched in 29.54, behind Australia’s Matthew Levy 28.68. The world record is 28.57.
Final: A second swim under 30 seconds following his morning 29.54 gave Sadie second position and a silver medal. ‘I didn’t have a good underwater but the swim itself went great. I have been struggling to get under 30 seconds and am looking for more consistency so this will give me confidence. I can’t wait to get back to South Africa and work up to the Nationals.’ Australia’s Matthew Levy took gold in 28.60.
Men’s 50m Breaststroke, Final: Cameron van der Burgh won gold for the third successive Commonwealth Games in the 50m to show that while he still has the raw speed, he’s also the man for the big occasion. This time he held off the world record, the man they said was untouchable, England’s Adam Peaty. Van der Burgh reached the wall in 26.58, with Peaty second in 26.62. England’s James Wilby took bronze. Michael Houlie was sixth in 27.83 and Brad Tandy, 30 minutes after his 50m freestyle semi-final, was eighth in 28.37.
Men’s 100m Butterfly, Final: Chad le Clos picked up his third gold medal of the Games and completed a clean sweep of the butterfly when he added the 100m to the 50m and 200m golds he had won earlier. He also picked up silver in the 100m freestyle. The result was never in doubt as the South African superstar flew off the blocks and led from start to finish. His time of 50.65 broke the previous Commonwealth Games rceord of 51.29.
Women’s 100m Freestyle, Final: Erin Gallagher finished sixth behind Australia’s Bronte Campbell, and the young South African is having a dream Games. She clocked 54.23 to truly establish herself amongst the big guns on the world stage. In 2020 at the Tokyo Olympics she will be a force to be reckoned with.
Women’s 100m Breaststroke, Final: Tatjana Schoenmaker continued her amazine championships when she smashed the African record that had stood behind Penny Heyns’ name since 1999. Schoenmaker was second at the turn and battled strongly down the final lap to win in 1:06.41. The previous record was 1:06.52 and Schoenmaker had swum a 1:06.65 in the semi-final. ‘It still hasn’t sunk in,’ she said afterwards. ‘Maybe I’ll get emotional just before I go to sleep!’
Women’s 50m Backstroke, Heats: Erin Gallagher has had a memorable Games so far and already booked her place in two finals. Here she progressed to the semi-finals with a 29.38 swim, but ranked 15 on the timesheets and she withdrew, to conserve energy, given she wouldn’t have expected to reach the final. Mariella Venter, with a 29.88 in the heats, qualified 17th overall to be a reserve for the semis, and got an evening swim when Gallagher withdrew.
Semi-finals: Venter improved to a 29.58 in the evening’s swim but this wasn’t enough for her to qualify for the final.
Women’s 200m Butterfly, Heats: Duné Coetzee, still only 15 and in her first major senior championships, clocked a 2:12.30 for fifth in her race, which was essentially a semi-final. That left her 11th overall and she missed out on the final.
Women’s 800m Freestyle, Final: After a gruelling 800m of swimming, Kate Beavon recorded exactly the same time (8:49.16) that she had set in qualifying for the final. It placed her eighth in the final. Australians made it a 1-2-3 with Ariane Titmus (8:20.02) leading home Jessica Ashwood (8:27.60) and Kiah Melverton (8:28.59).
Compiled by Gary Lemke and Mark Etheridge
Photo: Image of Christian Sadie by Anton Geyser/Gallo Images