Henri hurries to Olympic bronze and his first major podium
By Mark Etheridge
It’s all hail King Henri the Third as Team South Africa triathlete Henri Schoeman raced to third place and South Africa’s second bronze medal of the Olympic Games on Thursday.
Schoeman, who just a day ago was running the medical gauntlet in the Athletes’ Village to alleviate fears of a possible respiratory infection before getting the thumbs up from team doctors, ran the race of his life as he was only bested by Britain’s brilliant Brownlee brothers (Alistair and Jonathan) on a corker of a day at Copacabana Beach.
And making it a doubly delightful day for South Africa was Richard Murray’s miracle run to fourth placed, just behind Schoeman.
The two clocked 1hr 45min 43sec and 1:45:50 respectively as Alistair Brownlee defended his Olympic title in 1:45:01 with his brother 6sec adrift.
Four months ago Murray’s march to a possible Rio medal had seemingly been left lying on the Gold Coast roadside in Australia as he crashed in a WTS event and broke his collarbone.
For Murray it had been the worst possible swim on Thursday as he was even further off the pace than normal and he played catch-up for the rest of the race.
But back to Schoeman and the shy Durbanite can rightly shout it out from the rooftops right now.
He came out of the water (where he’s one of the dominating forces in world triathlon) in seventh spot. He was then immediately in a front pack of 10 who had a gap of around a minute over the chasing pack (led, as is so often the case, by Murray).
The pack never caught the front riders on the cycle and Schoeman was about sixth as they swopped bike saddles for running shoes. There’s a wise head on those young shoulders and Schoeman was content to let the Brownlees go up the road and concentrate on creating a medal memory of his own.
Hartley is hurting… but the hunger for success is still there
By Mark Etheridge
Beaten but by no means broken, canoeist Bridgitte Hartley lives to fight another day after missing out on the final of the women’s K1 500m sprint event at the Olympics on Wednesday.
The London Olympics bronze medal-winner in this event, she ended sixth in her semi-final here, failing to go through and then ended eighth and last in Thursday’s B final.
She had a few injury niggles going into her event but refused to use that as an excuse for failing to reach the final. ‘I wasn’t going to race the 200 earlier in the week but the heats and semi’s gave me some confidence so I was excited to race the 500m, not quite as nervous.
‘I had a neck spasm the night before so was a bit stressed but as athletes we all have challenges and niggles so it didn’t get me down too much. I warmed up and in my heat I didn’t get my boat running nicely off the start but towards the end it started felling really good so I thought “that’s cool” … was coming in third and
didn’t wanna kill myself.
‘The German girl took it easy in the heat and hey she won her semi-final by so far yet she was only fourth in the heat.’
She got to thinking more than normal before her semi. ‘It was so strange – I raced the Hungarian girl in the heat just like in London four years ago. Here I had a headwind which is usually my favourite and tried to relax but I was more nervous than normal… I just struggled to get that boat run again.
How Team SA fared on Thursday
Henri Schoeman won Team South Africa’s eighth medal of the Olympics on Thursday and Sunette Viljoen sealed a ninth.
Men’s race: Henri Schoeman finished third and Richard Murray finished fourth
In a nutshell: Murray and Schoeman had Nos 1 and 2 respectively pinned on their race outfits (or make that stamped on their bodies). Both these two stars were medal hopes behind the dominant Brownless brothers of Great Britain. Schoeman was never out of the front group, coming out of the water in good shape – Murray was a minute behind – and on the bike Schoeman kept pace. On the run he quickly found himself in third position and that’s where he remained. Murray, with well over a minute to make up starting the 10km run, finished like an express train to claim fourth place, just out of the medals. Alistair Brownlee clocked 1hr 45mins 01sec, and when Jonathan came home six seconds later, the pair, exhausted by their exertions on a brutal day for the triathlon, embraced on the floor together. Behind them, another 36 seconds adrift, came Schoeman, ahead of a charging Murray.
Women’s 500m Kayak Single, B final: Bridgitte Hartley finished eighth in 2:01.890.
The lowdown: The bronze medallist from London 2012 struggled to contain her emotions after she failed to qualify for the ‘A’ final in her favourite event, and with that went any chance of repeating her London heroics. In the ‘B’ final she finished at the back of the field, more than three seconds behind the seventh boat. Hartley was never in contention and had also been eighth going through halfway in 59.05.
Men’s Decathlon: Willem Coertzen withdrew injured with what appeared to be a left quadricep injury in his leg, after completing three of the 10 events and is not in action on the second day of the event.
Women’s Javelin, final: Sunette Viljoen succeeded in securing silver for South Africa. Croatia’s Sara Kolak (66.18m) took the gold ahead of Viljoen’s 64.92m with the Czech Republic’s Barbora Špotáková in bronze (64.80m). The silver medal meant it was South Africa’s ninth medal of the games with three days of competition to come.
Women’s 800m semi-final: Caster Semenya cruised (as she does) into the final with a 1:58:15 effort. She sat back for the first lap and then took the long way round into the final straight before easing ahead. Job done, no stress. She’s a full 0.50sec clear of the next fastest finisher, Great Britain’s Lindsey Sharp. Watch this space!
Women’s second round: Ashleigh Simon, who shot a four-over 75 in her first round, recovered for a two-under 69 on Thursday for a halfway score of 144, two- over par.
Women’s second round: Paula Reto, after a first round 74, carded a four-under 67 to move to one-under for the tournament, eight shots off the lead.
Men’s BMX quarter-finals: Kyle Dodd.
Dodd finished fourth, fifth and fifth in his three runs in his heat to be placed sixth overall in his group, which was not enough to see him progress to the last 16 semi-finalists.
DAY 13 RESULTS – 18 AUGUST
DAY 14 – COMPETITION SCHEDULE – 19 AUGUST 2016
Source – SASCOC