Lifesaver Paul van Achterbergh came within 0.16 seconds of securing Team South Africa’s first medal at the World Games here on Saturday night.
Lifesaving and waterskiing were the first two codes with South African representation at these games after Thursday night’s opening ceremony in front of 40,000 people at the city’s main stadium.
Van Achterbergh was the pick of the lifesavers after the first of two days action in this code and he ended fourth in the men’s 200-metre obstacle race.
He clocked 1min 58.50sec with the third-placed swimmer agonisingly just out of reach ahead of him.
He did, at least, have the consolation of having set a new South African record in this event.
The 18-year-old was also in action in the final event of the evening, the 200m super lifesaver where he ended seventh in 2:21:37.
Other lifesaving in action saw Megan Stephens and Carmell Billson ending sixth (2:16:.30 and 2.17.88) respectively in the first race of the evening, the womens’ 200m obstacle event.
The men’s 4x50m obstacle relay saw Team SA (Van Achterbergh, Daniel Malan, Barjo van Niekerk and Armand Marais) end sixth in 1:44.10 as Germany sent a new world record of 1:38.25.
The other South African race saw Armand Marais end fifth in the 100m mannikin with fins event in 50:13 as Italy’s Francisco Bonanni set a World Games record of 47.59.
Marais’ main medal chance will come in the 50m mannikin without fins event on Saturday.
There was early honour for South Africa as Van Niekerk read out the Athletes’ Oath in the traditional opening ceremony for the lifesaving code.