Team South Africa started the day with 32 medals in the bag and three days of competition left at the 2018 Games. Here’s what happened on, hopefully a lucky rather than unlucky, Friday, 13 April.
Men’s 4x100m Relay, Heat 1: Team South Africa’s quartet safely put themselves in contention for yet another medal when they won their heat at the Carrara Stadium. The team of 100m silver medallist Henricho Bruintjies, Emile Erasmus (brought in specifically for relay duty), Anaso Jobodwana and 100m gold medallist Akani Simbine raced to a time of 38.71sec (not that far off the national mark of 38.35) as they won the first of two heats. Australia were second in a season’s best 38.79. The second heat was where the powerhouses lurked and England (38.15), Jamaica (38.44) and Nigeria (38.52) all posted times quicker than SA ahead of Saturday afternoon’s final showdown.
Men’s javelin, Qualifying: Phil-Mar van Rensburg did what he needed to do to qualify for the final on Saturday. Automatic qualification was 78.00 metres and the big man from Tzaneen did exactly that, right down to the last centimetre. He advances into the 12-man final with the seventh best distance as Aussie Hamish Peacock led the way with a throw of 81.22m. There’s definitely a South African connection to this event. Former world champion Marius Corbett still holds the Games record with the 88.75m he threw in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 20 years ago. ‘All I wanted to do was qualify,’ said 28-year-old Van Rensburg. ‘I felt nice and solid, job done. The final is going to be great and this crowd is electric.’ What will it take to medal: ‘Definitely an 81+ but the conditions will be right for big throws. There are a few big names here so I’ll have to produce.
Women’s 800m Final: Probably South Africa’s banker for gold at these Games, Caster Semenya didn’t disappoint as she led from start to finish and won in a new Games record of 1min 56.68sec. Always in complete control she even took the lead from the gun. She took the bell at 58.66sec, meaning the record was on. And so it proved to be as she smashed the 1:57.35 set by Seychelles athlete Joanna Houareau back at the 2002 Games in Manchester.
Men’s 1000m final: ‘Veteran’ Stephen Mokoka has been around the block a few times (and more than a few laps) when it comes to big international events. The two-time Olympian placed sixth on a muggy Gold Coast evening as Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegui won in a Games record 27:19.62. But Mokoka fought his usual brave fight and was pleased with a season’s best time of 27:44.58. ‘I think I ran well in terms of pace judgement tonight and I think it’s my second fastest time overseas. Coming from the world half-marathon championships I didn’t really have time to do speed work. Thanks to SASCOC for giving me the opportunity to represent my country and I’m looking forward to the future.’
Women’s Pairs, Final: Nicolene Neal and Colleen Piketh won silver for Team South Africa but it could have been so much better. The two were leading Malaysia’s Emma Firyana Saroji and Siti Zalina Ahmad until the 16th end, having lead by 12-3 at one stage (the 10th). But from the 12th to the 16th the SA pair were only add two shots to their score as the Malaysian added 10 of their own for the narrowest of wins, 15-14.
Women’s 1m springboard preliminary: All three of the South Africans qualified for the final later on Friday: The trio are all based around the United States at various colleges and universities. Rio Olympian Julia Vincent was best on the morning, her score of 260.95 making her third best qualifier behind two Australian divers. Nicole Gillis (231.90) and Micaela Bouter (230.75) were 10th and 11th respectively and will also compete on Friday evening.
Women’s 1m springboard, Final:
South Africa’s leading diver, Julia Vincent ended up one place short of the podium as she finished fourth with a score of 247.40, with the bronze medal won in 252.95. Fellow South Africans Micaela Bouter and Nicole Gillis were 10th and 11th respectively with scores of 217.25 and 210.95. Vincent was hurting but hardened by her competition. ‘This one is a tough loss for me, I ended five points off a medal. I’m disappointed but trying to be at peace about it. Sometimes the greatest lessons are the toughest ones to learn and although I won’t dwell on this loss, I won’t forget it either. I have to believe I have better things coming my way, as long as I learned from the mistake I made tonight. I’m proud to be able to dive for South Africa and I’m proud of both my teammates for making it back for the final tonight. I hope for stronger day tomorrow.’
Women’s Ball, Final: Grace Legote ended seventh of eight finalists with a score of 12.150 as Cypriot gymnast Diamanto Evipridou won with a tally of 13,800 and finished in the top three of the hoop, ball, club and ribbon competitions.
Men’s Play-off, 9th and 10th: South Africa wrapped up their Games campaign with a narrow 2-3 loss to Wales. Ryan Crowe had got the South Africans up and running with a goal in the 19th minute before Wales struck back with goals in the 27th and 42nd minutes. Dayaan Cassiem levelled things up in the 46th. So Mark Hopkin’s team will leave Australia with 10th spot but as the coach pointed out earlier in the tournament, this a super-exciting young side with unlimited talent. The trick will be keeping this squad together and growing them going forward!
Women’s Play-off, 5th and 6th: South Africa lost their final match, against Canada, 3-1. There was much added interest in this game as the Canadians were coached by former SA men’s player and women’s team coach, Giles Bonnet. On this occasion he emerged with bragging rights as Canada scored their first after 10 minutes and added further goals in the 15th and 48th minutes. There was late consolation for South Africa when Cape Town’s Candice Manuel scored in the 55th minute. SA end sixth, a position that doesn’t make Manuel happy. ‘This is not the result we wanted . We left it rather late into the second half before we started competing with Canada. We needed to be consistent both in this game and the whole tournament. But today we lacked that and only started bringing the pressure and the SA-style, which we know, late into the second half. It’s unfortunate for us to end sixth and we’re disappointed. Overall that’s not where we wanted to end. From here we have to learn lessons, grow and just end better next time.’
Women, Pool A: South Africa got their Games campaign underway on this the third last day of the Games. They went down 29-0 to Canada. The northern hemisphere team was up 24-0 at half-time and it looked like a beating was on the cards but the South Africans managed to limit the damage to just one try after half time.
Women, Pool A: New coach Paul Delport could only look on as his women’s team were over-run by the powerful Kiws to the tune of 41-0. Halftime was 22-0 and the SA women will be keen to at least get on teh board in their next pool match, which is against continental counterparts Kenya.
Men’s TT 6-10, Semi-finals: Theo Cogill went down to England’s Kim Daybell in an action-packed affair at Oxenford Studios complex. Cogill lost the first game 8-11 but took the second with the same scoreline. Daybell got the third 11-5 but again Cogill fought back to make it 2-2 with an 11-6 scoreline. Daybell took the final game 11-6. But Cogill is not out of things and will now contest the bronze medal play-off.
Men’s Freestyle, 1/8 Final (65kg): Terry van Rensburg lost to Nigeria’s Amas Daniel with a 9-0 points decision.
Men’s Freestyle, 1/8 Final (97kg): Martin Erasmus downed Samuel Belkin of New Zealand by virtue or a technical superiority decision, amassing a total of 10 technical points. He then went on to beat Aussie Nicolaas Verreynne in the quarters and Canada’s Jordan Steen in the semi-finals to set up a gold-medal match against India’s Mausam Khatri
Men’s Freestyle, Final (97kg): GOLD! Erasmus fought his way to South Africa’s 11th gold medal at these Commonwealth Games. He beat India’s Khatri on a superior technicality scoreline, the margin being 12-2. A great victory for the SA strongman, one of the quietest, most humble gold medal winners you’ll ever see. Erasmus gave a hint of things to come when he won senior gold at the African Championships in Nigeria earlier this year. ‘I’m so proud,’ said code manager Nico Coetzee, one of SA wrestling’s true servants. ‘I’m obviously very happy … we’ve worked for this for the two previous Commonwealth Games. We narrowly missed previously it but won a couple of silvers and today we got it right. This young man has a brilliant future and so do a couple of the youngsters her. They maybe didn’t get medals but we are working in the right direction. I’m extremely proud of this team and so grateful of all the support from each and every one in Team SA. It’s lovely to share this with SA and make you proud.’ The gold medal immediately pushed Team SA further ahead of New Zealand on the medals table. SA now sit fifth with 12 gold medals, two more than the Kiwis.
Photos: Simbine, Jobodwana, Bruintjies and Erasmus at the relay heats, Vincent in the pool and Cogill (main picture) by Cameron Spencer, Jono Searle and Clive Rose/Getty Images