9 AUGUST 2016
Le Clos fourth as Phelps reigns supreme
By Gary Lemke
After all was said and done, Michael Phelps did his talking in the pool. The American legend claimed the 20th gold medal of his career and stamped himself as one of the greatest athletes of all time when he cleaned up in the most anticipated head-to-head of Rio 2016.
At the end of it, Phelps touched the wall first with Chad le Clos, the brilliant young South African who had ripped the Olympic 200m butterfly cloak of invincibility off his back in 2012, languishing in the American’s wake. History will show that Phelps won gold in 1:53.36, and a distraught Le Clos went home with nothing to show for it. Fourth place in 1:54.06.
Le Clos, bidding to become the only man other than Phelps to retain a men’s 200m butterfly title, came up short. Between him and the imperious American was the charging Japanese Masato Sakai, only four-hundredths of a second behind and Hungarian teenager Tamas Kenderesi third in 1:53.06.
With media scrambling down the steep steel stairs to get into the mixed zone, an experienced, triumphant American said, ‘Did you see, Phelps gave him the [finger] wag afterwards. He served his butt to him on a plate.’ With emotions running high after all the hype, it was hard to argue that Phelps had ‘owned’ Le Clos in this particular race.
SA Sevens men open campaign in style
By Gary Lemke
South Africa’s Sevens team made a dream start to their Olympic campaign when they won both their Pool B matches at the Deodora stadium, firstly keeping Spain scoreless (24-0) and then following that with a demolition job over France, winning 26-0.
Having scored within 90 seconds against Spain earlier in the day, South Africa were on the board even quicker against France, dotting down after 54 seconds following a barnstorming run by Kwagga Smith that had been continued by Cecil Afrika who passed inside to the unmarked Justin Geduld. With temperatures still sitting at 28deg at 4.30 in the afternoon, the match had an understandably stop-start tempo to it, but most of the decisive running came from the South Africans.
They were strong in the tackle too where Kyle Brown stood firm and after one turnover had been created by the captain, the ball was fed to Smith who, inside his own 22m, jinked inside his man and then ran the rest of the length of the field and Afrika converted for 14-0.
What’s up with Wayde as his big day gets closer
World 400-metre track champion Wayde van Niekerk had a whistle-stop Monday moment in the Athletes’ Village ahead of his bid to add an Olympic title to his already impressive sporting portfolio, writes Mark Etheridge.
Catch some bullet points from the Bloemfontein blitz:
On being Team SA’s flag bearer at Friday’s opening ceremony
‘An amazing experience… the team environment alone was something special and to share that opportunity with so many guys that are friends and inspire me – it just brought joy to me knowing that we represent our
country in a positive light.’
What he’s been up to since his last race in Monaco in mid-July.
‘Well I got to Gemona, Italy and could focus on myself again because in South Africa things were a bit crazy with sponsor responsibility and random media etc. and I couldn’t sit down and focus on me and my career although of course that comes with the territory. When I got to Europe and Jamaica etc. I was more relaxed and confident to compete.’
Expectations of the Rio Olympics.
‘I always want more but it’s no use me going on my knees every race and say “God take over and control my race”.. .I’ll be happy with whatever comes my way, I’m grateful. This is a new competition but I’ll put my best foot forward we don’t know what time will win but I hope the time I run is the winning time’
How does the Olympic experience compare with world champs.
‘Well at the moment I’m keeping it quite simple. I’m a very laid back person and relaxed and I just need to relax and chill and watch movies. I don’t do anything out of the ordinary but it’s the Olympics and something major and another opportunity to go out there and achieve something in my career. So I’m taking it seriously when it comes to my event. Afterwards I’ll get to know Brazil.’
How Team SA fared on Tuesday
There were five different codes being represented by Team South Africa on Tuesday (9 August). Here is a list of South Africans in competition. Times are Rio local and in brackets is SA time.
Men’s Pair: Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling qualified for the final by finishing third in their semi-final in 6min 27.59sec.
In a nutshell: Six boats squared off in two semi-finals. The selection criteria was simple – the first three in each semi progressed to the ‘A’ final and the other three went to the ‘B’ final. Brittain and Keeling got off to a fast start through the first 300m before being joined by favourites New Zealand in lane four. The Olympic and world champions, with a stroke rate of 40, compared to the 38 of the South Africans, put their noses in front at the 500m mark and weren’t to beheaded again. Brittain and Keeling were alone in second and Great Britain – the country, not individual – pulled into third going through halfway. These three boats had put daylight between them and the rest of the field and qualified comfortably, with New Zealand looking every inch the gold medal favourites they are. South Africa were touched off by GBR for second but kept the rest of the chasers away. Gary Lemke (GL)
What they said: ‘It was probably the best weather we’ve had so far, said Brittain. ‘Overall, a good race by us. Our first three-quarters were good but the last quarter wasn’t as good. But the main thing was to get into that final.
Sitting at the back of the boat I get the chance to watch the other crews so I could see we were doing the job well enough. But there’s still work to be done for that final. Keeling added his thoughts on the victorious winners of their semi, Kiwi gold medal favourites Murray and Bond. ‘These guys haven’t been beaten in nine years but in an Olympic final anything can happen. All we can do is go for the best race we can and if we produce that I’d like to think we have a shot.’ Mark Etheridge (ME)
Men’s Four Repechage 1: David Hunt, Jonathan Smith, Vincent Breet and Jake Green made amends for their under-par performance on Monday with victory in their repechage to progress to the semi-finals. In a nutshell: South Africa were never headed as they pulled Belarus and Russia along. It was a comfortable win for the Four who weren’t happy with their effort on Monday, but who were determined to put things right having been given a second chance of qualifying through the back door. They won in 6:34.97 and will now have their sights and minds focused on the semi-finals. GL
What they said: Hunt is confident the crew have moved on from their below-par performance in Mondays’ heat. ‘I think yesterday was probably just down to a bit of inexperience. We normally have a good start and it seemed we almost doubted our own lead and as though we just sat waiting. But today we wanted to contest and aggressive and fastest. I thought we
really had a ruthless middle sector.’ ME
Men’s Pool B: South Africa were untroubled Spain in their game against tournament minnows, winning 24-0.
In a nutshell: The game had come immediately after France produced an upset to beat fellow Pool B rivals Australia 29-14. But there was to be no repeat as South Africa immediately went on the front foot, scoring through Cecil Africa to be 7-0 up after 90 seconds. That became 14-0 at half-time (Africa with another converted try) before second half tries by Seabelo Senatla and Philip Snyman made the final score 24-0 at the Deodora Stadium. GL
Men’s Pool B: For the second match in a row, South Africa kept a clean sheet while going over for four tries as they earned a 26-0 win over France to add to their 24-0 victory over Spain earlier.
In a nutshell: South Africa were strong on attack and result in defence as they kept their opposition trills – and in truth, France never came close to scoring. For South Africa, tries were scored by Justin Geduld, Kwagga Smith, Kyle Brown and Dylan Sage, while Cecil Afrika converted three of them. GL
Laser Men, Race 3: Stefano Marcia
In a nutshell: Marcia ended 42nd out of 46 starter in his third race, sailed in winds of between 10-14 knots. That will come as something of a disappointment after his 30th and 25th spots on the opening day of competition. That saw him dropping from 28th to 34th in the overall fleet standings with 97 points. His second race saw a slight improvement though as he ended 39th but his overall standing is now 36th. Meanwhile up front it’s Argentinian Julio Lsogaray who has moved into the lead on 21 points, replacing Croatia’s Tonci Stipanovic. ME
Men’s Breaststroke Heats: Jarred Crous finished eighth in his heat in 2:12.64 and 25th overall and Cameron van der Burgh also finished seventh in his heat in 2:12.67 and 26th overall. Though the two displayed good performance, they failed to qualify for the semi-finals.
In a nutshell: Olympic 100m silver medallist Cameron van der Burgh showed up well for the first 100m, but after that he had what he calls ‘problems with my stroke’ and he knew from a long way out that he wasn’t going to be a factor in this longer event. He’d been looking for a 2:10, but it was not going to happen on the day. Yet, he still needed the ‘racing experience’ and has something to go back and work on. What Van der Burgh hadn’t said in the lead-up to these Games is that he picked up a bad virus in Europe at a crucial time of preparation and it required two sets of antibiotics to be treated. With that in mind his heroics in the 100m, where he held off a wall of challengers, pulling on a steely mental resolve, should not be underestimated. A few days later, that silver can feel like a gold. Crous, who came into the competition with a 2:10.80, will be disappointed that he wasn’t able to replicate that on this stage. A 2:11.25 would have been good enough to make the list of 16 semi-finalists. GL
Men’s 4x200m Freestyle: South Africa, with a quartet of Myles Brown, Sebastien Rousseau, Calvin Justus and Dylan Bosch finished fifth behind the United States, timing 7:12.61 in their heat. Brown, who’d set a new 400m national record at the weekend, produced a 1:46.47 first 200m, to carry South Africa into the lead. Rousseau’s leg was 1:48.35, Justus 1:49.04 and Bosch 1:48.75 as South Africa qualified 11th out of 16 but unfortunately failed to make the final.
Men’s 200m Butterfly: Chad le Clos finished out of the medals, in fourth, as Michael Phelps won the 20th gold medal of his Olympic career.
Women’s First Round, Group E: South Africa drew 0-0 with Brazil
In a nutshell: They had pride to play for in their final group match and they can be proud that they held the usually free-scoring host nation scoreless in Manaus. But, and it’s a big but, where are the goals going to come from? South Africa failed to score once in their three matches: 0-1 against Sweden and 0-2 to China and now 0-0 to Brazil. In London four years ago it was just Portia Modise’s freak strike that put Banyana Banyana on the goals-for column in three matches and SA are seriously going to need to find a strike force out there somewhere. ME