By Mark Etheridge
in Brazzaville, Congo
Lebogang ‘Daywalker’ Shange and Wayne Snyman walked their way to gold and bronze medals for Team South Africa at the African Games here on Tuesday.
And another medal came late in the day, courtesy of Jo-Ané van Dyk in the women’s javelin.
That saw South Africa’s total medal tally mount to 109, after four para-athletics medals on the day and with three more days of competition.
Shange and Snyman (pictured above) were joined by Mthembi Chauque in the 20km walk while Anel Oosthuizen was the sole SA walker in the women’s race.
As the race unfolded over multiple laps around the Stade D’Unite, Shange was content to sit back and watch as walker after walker wilted and dropped back. Eventually it was a man-on-man battle between him and Kenya’s Samuel Kereri.
Snyman, after being some way back, also clawed his way back and was able to watch the battle for gold unfold ahead of him.
The South African and Kenyan matched each other stride for stride before Shange made his move with the line in sight. But he was nearly unsighted as Kereri roared back around the outside and Shange had to be alerted by screaming SA fans before he put in a final sprint to gold.
His time was 1hr 26min 43sec, just one second ahead of the Kenyan and Snyman clocked 1:27.32 for bronze. Chauque was seventh in 1:35.44.
‘I took the first 5km easy but then my legs just felt dead after the recent world championships,’ said 25-year-old Shange. ‘I played mind games with the Kenyan and let him take the lead because he’s never beaten me before.
‘Conditions were fine, I’m just so tired. Luckily the guys were scared of me and I also slowed the pace a bit to try and let Wayne catch up and get a medal.
‘I was supposed to be doing a walk relay in China next week but I’ve just let them know today that I won’t be making it… just too tired.’
Said Snyman: ‘I was feeling comfortable and was catching up nicely at the end but then I got two warnings with 3km to go so I slowed a bit and didn’t chase as hard.’
Oosthuizen was up with the women’s bunch in the early stages but dropped off and later consolidated for fourth as the early leaders dropped back. ‘It was just so humid that I dehydrated too quickly and my time of around 1:43:05 is about five minutes slower than I normally walk.’
The evening session saw another bronze medal added to SA’s haul as Van Dyk threw a 50.54m for the bronze.
‘It’s my first ever senior championships so I stressed a bit as the evening wore on but I’m happy. I would have liked a 51-52 but this will do. I’m also getting over an elbow injury so my average throws were good tonight,’ said the 17-year-old George scholar.
Next year she’s heading up to Potchefstroom to study and train with ace javelin coach, Terteus Liebenberg.
Other results on Tuesday saw Claudia Heunis end fifth in the women’s 100m hurdles final while heptathletes June Roelofse and Nienka du Toit were placed 10th and 11th respectively with scores of 2934 and 2905 respectively after one day’s competition.
NEWS FROM THE OTHER CODES
This code gets underway on Wednesday and continues to Friday.
Four South Africans are in action on day one, all in the Greco-Roman style where only the upper body may be attacked.
Says national coach Nico Coetzee: ‘Jan Combrink (59kg) has a good chance to go further when he is up against an Algerian opponent.
‘Then we have Barco Badenhorst (66kg) who is up against Egypt. He is in the bad side of the draw but if he can win this one he can maybe go all the way through to the final.
‘Tiaan van der Merwe (98kg) is up against Kenya first which will be a good match and then Egypt is next.
‘Andries Schutte (130kg) has a nice draw and if he wins his first match against Kenya he should be straight into the semi-final.
‘All these guys are really young and great future prospects if they are given the proper funding and support. They all have huge hearts which is great to see.’
They may no longer be part of the Team SA medal chase after losing the lucky draw for a place in the semi-finals but Banyana Banyana are not wasting any time around the Athletes’ Village.
They’re training daily in preparation for their upcoming two-leg Rio Olympics qualifier against Equatorial Guinea.
They’ve also arranged for an extra match against Tanzania on Wednesday.
‘I’ve cleared it with CAF just to make things official and so it doesn’t turn into nothing more than a run-out,’ said coach Vera Pauw. ‘I would also have liked to play Congo but there is just not enough time or venues with the semi-finals, finals and third-fourth place play-offs taking place over the next three days.’
This code begins its final day of competition on Wednesday.
After ending the team event eighth after a loss to Angola on Monday, South Africa now play in the doubles competition.
‘We’ve only got girls here so it won’t be as hectic,’ said coach Neville Parker. ‘We first play Mauritius at 9.30 and then there are games thick and fast, every half an hour and it’s a knock-out affair.
‘There are more than 30 teams involved and I’ve paired Zodwa Maphanga and Khanyisile Madlala together because they are used to playing now and then Danisha Patel and Caitlin Lingeveldt will make up the other team.’
The remainder of the team’s boxers leave for home on Wednesday.
Team manager Johan Prinsloo will leave with his charges having won two bronze medals, courtesy of Sibusiso Bandla (49kg) and Bathabile Ziqubu (51kg).
And there was an extra bit of good news for this code.
‘We’ve done our research and worked out that Bathabile’s medal is a first for any female South African boxer at multi-code Games!’