12 AUGUST 2016
Le Clos bounces back with silver
By Gary Lemke
Chad le Clos had told the world, ‘don’t judge me when I’m roaring like a lion, judge me when I’ve got my back against the wall’. Never before had the South African been so pinned against the wall than this week. It must have felt like someone had their forearm jammed against his throat, such was manner in which ‘only’ a fourth-place finish in his signature event, the 200m butterfly, had affected him. Especially in the wake of a widely broadcast perceived fallout with Michael Phelps.
And at the Olympic aquatic stadium on Friday, the South African responded like the champion he is. It wasn’t gold and it wasn’t bronze, but it was a second silver medal in the 100m butterfly that helped up South Africa’s medals tally to five at these Games. In a finish that the greatest swimmer of all time, Phelps, called ‘wild, really wild,’ Le Clos somehow managed to claw back from what looked for all money might be fourth place with a perfect lunge to the wall.
Phelps, who was winning the 27th Olympic medal of his career – 22 of them being gold – takes up the story. ‘I looked up and saw [my name] second, saw 51.1 and I thought “ok” and I looked over and I saw Chad come over, Laszlo [Cesh] come over, and I looked back at the scoreboard and I said, “oh my God, we’re all tied for second, a three-way tie”.’
How Team SA fared on Friday
There were five different codes being represented by South Africa on Friday. Here is a list of South Africans in competition. Times are Rio local and in brackets SA time. South Africa started the day with four medals.
Women’s Lightweight Double Sculls, Final: Kirsten McCann and Ursula Grobler finished fifth in 7min 11.26sec.
In a nutshell: McCann and Grobler, confident after winning their semi-final, had been quietly fancied in the Team SA camp to medal. They tracked China through the first 500m and then stuck their noses in front approaching halfway, with China still right there and the Netherlands getting into contention. The Dutch were moving strongly and pulled ahead, with a blanket covering second, third and fourth, South Africa being right there. However, McCann and Grobler then hit the wall inside the last 200m and faded rapidly to finish fifth.
Results: Gold Netherlands 7:04.23, Silver Canada 7:05.88, Bronze China 7:06.49, 5 South Africa 7:11.26
Men’s Lightweight Double Sculls, Final: James Thompson and John Smith finished fourth in 6:33.29
In a nutshell: Thompson and Smith were part of the Four that won gold in 2012 they started relatively slowly and were as close-up fourth at 1000m and the pace didn’t let up from there in a brutal race. France led virtually from start to finish to hold on as Ireland grabbed second and Thomson and Smith were simply unable to make up the water and stayed in fourth.
Results: Gold France 6:30:70, Silver Ireland 6:31.23 Bronze Norway 6:32.29 4 South Africa 6:33.29
Women’s Pair, Final: Lee-Ann Persse and Kate Christowitz finished fifth in 7:28.50
In a nutshell: Persse and Christowitz had finished third behind Great Britain and the United States in their semi-final in the quicker of the two semis. They were drawn in lane sixth with Great Britain the form combination and heavy favourites.
South Africa were always tracking the leaders, Great Britain, and could make no impression as the boats ahead of them pulled ahead and Persse and Christowitz never managed to get a blow in.
Results: Gold Great Britain 7:18.29, Silver New Zealand 7:19.53, Bronze Denmark 7:20.71, 5 South Africa 7:28.50
Men’s Four, final, David Hunt, Jonathan Smith, Vincent Breet and Jake Green finished fourth in 6:05.80
In a nutshell: The Lightweight Men’s Four brought home gold from London 2012 and subsequently had a shake-up in personnel. They reached the final in a good manner, winning their repechage and then finishing second in their semi in 6:15.22 and showed they deserved to be there with a strong performance in the final.
Great Britain and Australia took the fight to the field and battled it out for gold and silver, but South Africa were always going well in lane two in third spot but they were just touched off inside the final 100m by a charging Italy.
Results: Gold Great Britain 5:58.61, Silver Australia 6:00.44 Bronze Italy 6:03.85, 4 South Africa 6:05.80
Men’s second round: Jaco van Zyl double bogeyed the last hole to slip to a three-over 74 for the round and a 36-hole total of 145 (three over par). Brandon Stone added a one-over 72 to his first round 75 to be five-over on 147 after two rounds. Australia’s Marcus Fraser leads on 10-under, followed by Belgium’s Thomas Pieters on 9-under and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson on 8-under.
Men’s 800m heats: Rynardt van Rensburg finished second in 1:45.67 to qualify for the semi-finals, while Jacob Rozani finished fifth in his heat in 1:49.79.
In a nutshell: It’s only his first Olympics but Van Rensburg looked a seasoned pro as he eased his way into the semi-finals of the men’s 800-metre track event on Friday. Racing in heat three alongside Olympic champion David Rudisha, Van Rensburg was out of trouble as there was bumping and a near collision behind him. The bell ran at 52.36sec and the Bloemfontein athlete made sure he had space around him and hit the line second in 1min 45.67, a season’s best as Rudisha won in 1:45.09. It wasn’t as smooth sailing for SA champion Rozani two heats later as he could only manage fifth in 1:49.79 as Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi won a slow heat in 1:49.17. The field took the bell in a pedestrian 56.41 and Rozani was always near the back of the pack. In second last for most of the race, he moved up into fifth down the back straight but there was no evidence of any kick. Slowest time of the 16 direct qualifiers was a 1:46.65, three seconds quicker than Rozani who was 44th of 54 finishers in the seven heats. Shock of the heats was Botswana’s Olympic silver medallist Nijel Amos (1:50.46) going even slower than Rozani and being bounced out. ME
What they said:
Van Rensburg – ’I think I ran just about the perfect race and I can’t be happier. At the start of the season I had a few hiccups but just concentrated on the Olympics. I ran my season’s best and I’m in the shape of my life. Now I’m looking forward to the semis and I’m in shape when it counts. The plan was to be in front because most of these guys have a kick so sitting behind is looking for trouble. I sat behind David. He’s so classy that you just know his lane running will be quite smooth. I’m feeling very good and positive and after this I only something to gain and nothing to lose. Also, I thought that because it was morning heats the atmosphere would quiet but surprisingly there were a lot of people.’
Rozani: ‘I’m very disappointed. The plan was to place in the top three and go into the semis but my legs just didn’t have it today. The race was very tactical and slow, slow but I just didn’t have anything.’
Women’s 10,000m final: Dominique Scott-Efurd finished 21st in a time of 31:41.47
In a nutshell: Even if there’s scant chance of medalling in your event, producing a personal best is all your country can ask for. Team SA can consider Scott-Efurd’s run as ‘job done’. It was only her second race as a professional athlete and she beat her previous best (31:56.84) by five seconds. She was also privileged to be part of a brilliant world record run by Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana who won in 29:17.46.
Such was the sheer quality of the field that the first 13 across the line ran either national records or personal bests.
What she said: ‘Wow, it’s a dream come true. Last night in bed I was quite emotional about all that it’s taken to get me here. It was a super fast race, just amazing and the crowd carried us through. It was hard to even remain focused but it was fun. I’d like to have gone quicker but I still ran a 5sec PR [personal record] so I can’t ask for much more and 21st in the world isn’t too shabby for a 24-year old from South Africa. As for my nerves, I was just excited today. I was nervous a few weeks ago but then realised it was my goal to make it here and today I just wanted to enjoy it and not let nerves take over and then not enjoy something I’ve worked towards for all my life. The race was pretty choppy in terms of pace. We’d get into a rhythm, then slow down and then get going again. The weather was awesome, a bit warm but I’ve trained in the heat of Arkansas. Oh today was just so much fun, so cool! I just hope I didn’t spoil Almaz’ photographs as she was lapping me just as she went across the finish line!’ ME
Men’s 20km walk final: Lebogang Shange ended 44th in a time of 1:25:07 and Wayne Snyman 58th in 1:29:20.
In a nutshell: One has to believe that neither will be too happy with their walks at the Pontal venue, as they finished well behind their personal and season’s best. China’s Zhen Wang won in 1hr 19min 14sec, just two seconds outside his season’s best. Shange, who has been a revelation in the last year, was five minutes outside his season’s best and Snyman more than eight minutes outside his season’s best.
Here London Olympian Marc Mundell (50km) shares some thoughts on the race: ‘It was the first time male race walkers had competed in the 20km at the Olympics since 1960. Lebogang is the current SA record holder, which he set in Adelaide in February, then bettered at the national championships in April. Snyman recorded a lifetime best and IAAF qualification performance at the same race in Adelaide and also improved on his personal best at the 2016 nationals. Race day was a tops Turvey weather day with rain in the morning, warming up to decent sunshine prior to the start. The pace was solid throughout, lead by Tom Bosworth of Great Britain going through 10km in just over 40 minutes. As the pace quickened in the second half and temperatures rose, the field became more strung out. A lead group of nine athletes caught the leader in the second half of the race. The Chinese pair took control of proceedings going into the final quarter. The Chinese pair ended 1 -2 ahead of the Australian Dane Bird-Smith (with times of 1:19.14, 1:19.26 and 1:19.37 respectively). Brazilian local Bonfin was fourth holding off the German Linke with Bosworth (the early leader) finishing 6th. The South African duo faded in the second half.’
Men’s 400m heats: Wayde van Niekerk, first in heat three (45.27)
In a nutshell: In cruise control from gun to tape, Van Niekerk hit the front from the gun out in lane seven and even 100m into his race had eased up to a canter. He briefly tapped the accelerator as they hit the home straight but never needed to get anywhere near race mode. His time saw him eighth quickest of the 50 finishers in the heats with Commonwealth Games champion Kirani James quickest with a 44.93.
Men’s long jump qualifying round: Luvo Manyonga, Ruswahl Samaai and Stefan Brits
In a nutshell: The first two South Africans leapt smoothly into Saturday’s final but there was disappointment for United States based Brits. Manyonga leapt 8.12 metres and Samaai 8.03 to seal their spots as fourth and fifth longest but Brits would not be happy with his 7.71.m. ‘I’m just happy to get my spot in the final,’ said Manyonga. ‘I had one missed jump but the run-up is quite fast.’
As for Samaai he was in confident frame of mind. ‘I knew I’d get into the final. I’ve trained very hard for eight years to get here. The track is super-fast so it’s a good thing we’ve jumped her today so we can adjust for the final. I think it’s going to take an 8.30m jump to medal here.’
Women’s 100m, Round One, heats: Alyssa Conley, Carina Horn
In a nutshell: The South African champion (Conley) and the joint national record holder (Horn) were in action in heats seven and eight. And there were different opinions on the speed of the track and different outcomes of fortune. Conley was off first but struggled from the gun to clock 11.57 and end sixth of eight starters. In contrast Horn, in the last of eight heats, held her own as she placed second in 11.32 to automatically ensure progress to Saturday’s semi-finals. ‘No excuses at all,’ said a gracious Conley. ‘The restart unsettled me a bit but that’s not an excuse. I’ll put this behind me now and concentrate on the 200m. I found the track a bit slow tonight.’ In contrast Horn said: ‘To me the track felt quick. I had to increase the pace a bit in the last 30m or so because most of the girls had similar sort of times going into the race so you had to make sure of that top two. The ice has been broken now so its all focus on the semi’s now.’
Compiled by Mark Etheridge (Athletics and Sailing) and Gary Lemke (Golf, Rowing and Swimming)
Men’s 1500m Freestyle Heats: Matthew Meyer finished seventh in his heat and failed to qualify for the final.
In a nutshell: Meyer, competing in his first Olympics at the age of 18, might be loving the Games experience but he won’t be pleased about his swim which saw him finish seventh (out of seven) in his heat in 15:36.22. He had an entry time of 15:09. Meyer showed up well for the first 400m of this gruelling 30-lapper after which he steadily lost touch with the leaders. The heat was won by Denmark’s Anton Ipsen in 15:05.91.
Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay, Heats: South Africa disappointingly failed to reach the final, with Chris Reid, Dylan Bosch, Cameron van der Burgh and Myles Brown clocking 3:35.50 to finish seventh in a heat won by the United States in 3:31.83.
Men’s 100m butterfly, Final: Chad le Clos finished in a three-way dead heat for second behind Joseph Schooling. All of Le Clos, Michael Phelps and Lazslo Cseh were credited with the same time.
Men’s 50m freestyle, Final: Brad Tandy finished in a dead heat for sixth.
Women’s 3m springboard preliminary: Julia Vincent ended 29th with a score of 220.30.
In a nutshell: Competition was tough but so it should be at the Olympics. Her first dive was promising, an inward 2.5 somersault in tuck and scored in the upper satisfactory range of 5-6.5. The fact that it was in tuck and not pike meant the degree of difficulty was lower and put her in 28th place after the round. She then upped her game for round two which was way better as she did her forward 2,5 somersaults with one twist and, again scoring in the upper satisfactory range and elevating her to 24th. But then disaster struck, she got a really unstable take-off and stopped before doing the dive. Rattled, she took her time before the dive but it only scored in the deficient range of 2.5-4.5, which saw two marks removed from the judges’ score for the restart. That hiccup took her back to 29th.
Although she had time to recover round four wasn’t a lot better. Her 205B back 2.5 somersault in the pike position was a little leant and her entry was off so she remained in 29th position. Her final round went fractionally better than round three with an unbalanced hurdle step but this time she took the dive however, pulled it over and scored low marks again. United States based Vincent has lived her dream just by the fact that she’s managed to come through the qualifying rounds. Her mom always wanted her to be an 800m-track racer like fellow Team SA athlete Caster Semenya. She knows that she wasn’t expected to be near medal potential but the experience will be a stepping-stone to greater things. Making her Olympic debut all that more special is the fact that it’s her 22nd birthday on Saturday. ME
Men’s Singles Group play stage, Group N, Jacob Maliekal bt Artem Pochtarov 21 -18 21 -19
In a nutshell: Maliekal came to Rio hoping to cause an upset and that he did, beating the higher-ranked Ukraine athlete after going to his Korean opponent the previous evening. Said national coach Chris Dednam: ‘Jacob played the game of his life. He had to attack for most of the 47 minutes in a game of high paced play.
He almost gave away his 19-15 lead in the second game but managed to finish if off 21 -19. He still has an outside chance of going through when Korea and Ukraine play on Sunday. Ukraine has to win then they go on points.’ ME
Men’s Laser and 470 classes, Stefano Marcia finds himself in 39th spot of 46 sailors after eight races in this class. On Friday he ended 44th and 36th and the former race will be his ‘discard’ race. This competition is expected to wrap on Saturday. Meanwhile the 470 class of Asenathi Jim and Roger Hudson continue to show steady improvement after opening races of 18th and 24th spots. Their last two races saw them race to 14th and 11th spots which earns them 17th overall.
Compiled by Mark Etheridge (Athletics and Sailing) and Gary Lemke (Golf, Rowing and Swimming)