6 AUGUST 2016
Eighth in the recent Tour de France, South Africa’s Louis Meintjes went one better with a seventh spot in a gruelling men’s cycle road race at Fort Copacabana on Saturday. And he can pat team-mate and fellow Tour de France rider Daryl Impey who did a lot of the donkey work in the earlier stages.
The venue was rocked by a controlled explosion by military close to the finish line but the race itself was also an explosive affair with cobbles and crashes a plenty. The race got underway under a heavy defence force presence with at least four helicopters hovering above the venue as well as a navy craft just off the beach. Meintjes, rapidly making a name for himself as one of the globe’s best climbers ended 22sec down on Belgium’s gold medal winner Greg van Avermaet and not a whole way off silver medallist Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark and Rafal Majka of Poland who won bronze.
A six-man breakaway got away until 78km to go when it became four and with 47 of the 237km to ride it was sole Pole Michal Kwiatkowski out front. As the race got into the business end Meintjies moved into the leading group, along with Spain’s Joaquin Rodriguez with just 18km to race.
A tortuous descent down to the Copacabana beachfront saw Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali and Colombia’s Sergio Luis Henao Montoya going down hard, to wails of angst from a large Italian press gallery. That left Poland’s Rafal Majka 11sec ahead with 5km to go but he was hauled in by the eventual medallists inside 2km and despite trying to hang on he was left outgunned in the final push for the line. Douglas Ryder, the cycling coach was very pleased with the team’s performance and highlighted that it is the best performance achieved by an SA cycling team at an Olympics.
How Team SA fared on Saturday
By Gary Lemke
There were five different codes representing Team South Africa in Rio on Saturday. Here is a list of how they fared in their respective events. Times are Rio local and in brackets is SA time.
Men’s Pair (heat 1): Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling finished second behind Australia’s Spencer Turrin and Alexander Lloyd, clocking 6min 41.42sec. Australia timed 6:40.79. The result saw Brittain and Keeling progress to the semi-finals. Overall, Brittain and Keeling qualified second fastest. Gary Lemke says: Water conditions were choppy and there was a significant cross wind, which didn’t make things easy. Starting in lane four the South Africans quickly moved out into the lead, and being quickest to the 500m mark in 1:32.87, a boat length clear. Australia (lane three) closed approaching the 1000m mark, with both boats virtually side by side as they went through halfway in 3min 18.02sec, with South Africa in 3:18.14. It was a lead Australia didn’t relinquish, hitting 1 500m in 5:02.53 with South Africa 1.31 seconds behind. Brittain and Keeling produced a strong finish, as did the Czech Republic but the Australians held on for the heat win. ‘We’ve got some work to do in the middle of the race through the rough, but not a bad start for us,’ said Brittain.
Fastest qualifiers: 1 Australia 6:40.79, 2 South Africa 6min 41.42, 3 New Zealand 6:41.75, 4 France 6:42.00.
Mark Etheridge says: SA’s rowing duo were happy with their race but the good thing is that they know there’s more in the tank. And Brittain is only going to get better over the next few days before their semi. In the build-up to his race he’d been suffering from sinusitis and verging on a bronchial problem but with the expert help of mom Danielle, who also happens to be a doctor with Team SA, he’s good to go. ‘No problems now, it was all good,’ he says. ‘Most of the favoured teams went through today, New Zealand, Great Britain, France and Italy but the surprises were the Dutch who’ll have to do the repecharge.’ Added Keeling. ‘The boat felt good in the warm-up even in those tricky conditions with the boat moving around but we both know that we can definitely get better. One can’t really judge the boats on the times in these tricky conditions.’
Men’s 400m Individual Medley: Michael Meyer finished fifth in heat two in 4min 18.13sec, and failed to qualify for the final in the evening. Men’s 400m Individual Medley: Sebastien Rousseau finished seventh in his heat four in 4min 18.72, and failed to qualify for the final in the evening. Gary Lemke says: Neither South African, based on qualifying times, would have been realistically expected to reach the evening’s final. It is a brutal qualifying format when the fastest eight of 27 entrants go through, straight from heats to the final. Having said that, 23-year-old Meyer came into Rio with a 4:15.71 and swam 2.42sec off that, while the experienced national record holder (4:11.11) Rousseau was 3.97sec off his Rio entry time of 4:14.75. On the day, 4:13.55 was the cut off time for the final. Rousseau’s body language afterwards suggested he was gutted with swim.
Fastest qualifiers: 1 Chase Kalisz (USA) 4:08.12, 2 Daiya Seto (Japan) 4:08.47,
3 Kasuke Hagino (Japan) 4:10.00, 17 Michael Meyer (RSA) 4:18.13, 21 Sebastien
Men’s 400m Freestyle: Myles Brown finished second in heat five in a national record 3:45.92. However, it placed him only 12th on the overall qualifiers and he failed to qualify for the final Gary Lemke says: No one complains when a swimmer comes to the biggest event of their lives and swims a personal best. Brown swam the race of his career to lead from lane one, setting a cracking pace and leading through the first 250m as he attempted to post a time that would get him into the evening final, where only the fastest eight would qualify. ‘It wasn’t ideal swimming on my own (lane one), and I’d have liked to have been in one of the final two heats but I tried to get out there and rattle the big boys. I struggle in the mornings, but this was a “morning” 2pm swim, and I had time to give my body time to wake up get into the zone. I gave everything I had,’ he said. Indeed he did, and he must be congratulated that amid the disappointment of missing out on an Olympic final, he broke the South African record in trying to get there.
Fastest qualifiers: 1 Conor Dwyer (USA) 4:43.42, 2 Mack Horton (Aus) 3:43.84,
3 Gabriele Detti (Italy) 3.43.95, 12 Myles Brown (RSA) 3:45.92
Men’s 100m Breaststroke (Semi-finals): Cameron van der Burgh finished second in his heat in 59.35 to qualify for the semi-finals in seventh fastest overall. Gary Lemke says: Van der Burgh was in the same heat as the man who would be king, Peaty. This semi was important, of that there was no doubt. If Peaty dominated the 2012 Olympic champion, it would have been a hard place to come back from given the eight hours that had taken place. The first semi was won by Koseki, but the time, 59.23, was nothing to write home about. The second semi seemed to be the one that would produce the gold medallist. Peaty was in lane four, Van der Burgh in lane six. Peaty controlled the race, leading from start to finish and winning in 57.62, another exceptional effort. The South African was touched off for second by Cory Miller 59.05 and Van der Burgh timed 59.21, for third. Everyone will be racing for silver and bronze on Sunday; it’s hard to see the young British star losing gold. I’m expecting a world record from him again.
Fastest qualifiers: 1 Adam Peaty (GBR) 57.62, 2 Cody Miller (USA) 59.05, 3
Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) 59.21, 4 Yasuhiro Koseki (Japan) 59.23
Artistic Gymnastics, men’s qualification, sub-division 1 : Ryan Patterson displayed a great performance but unfortunately he failed to qualify for the final. His scores were: Rotation one, Floor (14.30). Rotation two, Pommel (13.03). Rotation three, Rings (13.333). Rotation four, Vault (13.733). Rotation five, Parallel Bars (13.000). Rotation six, Horizontal bar (13.291)
Banyana can hold heads high in defeat
By Gary Lemke
First, the harsh reality. Banyana Banyana are out of contention for the knockout stages at Rio 2016 after suffering a 2-0 defeat to China at the Olympic stadium on Saturday night.
They now play Brazil in their final group game. A superb long-range strike in the 88th minute by Ruyin Tan, who caught Roxy Barker off her line, simply condemned Banyana to their fate as tired legs set in and added gloss to the scoreline. However, now for the good news. In losing to 12th-ranked China – Banyana Banyana are 52nd – the South Africans turned in a considerably better team performance than they did in losing 1 -0 to fifth-ranked Sweden a couple of days earlier.
In the last quarter of the game China created several chances, most of which were
dealt smartly by the impressive Barker between the sticks, who did enough to earn
my nod as player of the match.