It was a challenging opening day for Team SA at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Saturday. Stefan De Bod was the only rider of the three South Africans to finish the men’s road race, while there were struggles for the men’s pairs and men’s four rowers, while our only judo player went out in the first round. The women’s waterpolo team were beaten in their historical Olympic debut and the men’s hockey team also tasted defeat.
For a complete breakdown of how Team SA fared on Saturday, see below.
Men’s Road Race: Gold went to Richard Carapez of Ecuador, followed by Belgium’s Wout van Aert and Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar. Team SA’s Nicholas Dlamini was in the five-man lead breakaway and was eventually swallowed up by the peloton with 48km to go after a brave ride. He’d been in the lead group for 186km for the tough 234km route, caught on Mount Fiji. Stefan De Bod led the Team SA challenge over the finish line, in 52nd position (6hr 16min 53sec), 11:27 minutes behind the winner. Dlamini and Ryan Gibbons recorded DNFs.
Men’s Pool B: South Africa 1 Great Britain 3. Great Britain scored after 2min from a penalty corner, but Matthew Guise-Brown made it 1-1 after 13min, also from a penalty corner. The visitors reclaimed the advantage in the 32nd min and then sealed the issue in the 55th min with a third goal.
Women’s Pool A: Ireland 2 South Africa 0. It was a case of eigth in the world beating 16th but South Africa were anything but outclassed. A goal in each half was enough to settle the issue in the way of the match favourites, though.
Women’s 48kg: South Africa’s Michaela Whitebooi, the only Judo player in the TeamSA squad, lost by Ippon to reigning Olympic champion and current World Championship bronze medallist Paula Pareto of Argentina. The contest time was 2min 7sec. Whitebooi was more than holding her own until the time of the ending, where she made an error that was punished and had to tap out from a choke.
Men’s Pair: Luc Daffarn and Jake Green finished fifth (out of five) in their heat at the Sea Forest Waterway, racing in lane one. Winners were Romania in 6min 33.86sec, followed by the Netherlands, Serbia, Spain and South Africa. Daffarn and Green were tie third after the first 500m, but suffered after that. They finished 30.16sec behind the winners. The result means they now go into the repechage.
Men’s Four: Lawrence Brittain, Kyle Schoonbee, John Smith and Sandro Torrente finished fifth in their heat in 6min 25.34sec, some 31.07sec behind heat winners Australia. United States, Netherlands and Romania finished second, third and fourth. South Africa progressed to the repechage. Competing in lane one, the South Africans were always up against it, 3.65sec behind after 500m, 6.21sec behind after 1000m and 14.58sec behind after 1500m.
Women’s 100m butterfly, Heats: Erin Gallagher finished eighth in her heat in 59.69sec, some 3.14sec behind Canada’s Margaret Macneil. Gallagher had come in to the competition with an entry time of 57.67sec. She finished 26th overall and missed out on the semi-finals.
Men’s 100m breaststroke, Heats: Michael Houlie finished eight in his heat in 1:01.22. That placed him 37th overall and he failed to qualify for the semi-finals. He had come in with an entry time of 59.64sec.
Women’s Group A: South Africa 4 Spain 29. South Africa made their debut at the Olympics having never been represented at the Games. They were up against the world No 4s and competed well in the first quarter, in which they finished 2-5 behind. The longer the match went, though, the stronger Spain got. They stretched to a 14-3 lead at half time and then 19-4 after the third quarter. They closed out the match with 10 more goals in the final quarter.
Compiled by Gary Lemke. Photo: Anton Geyser