20 AUGUST 2016
Semenya scorches to Team SA’s 10th medal of the Games
By Mark Etheridge
Caster Semenya catapulted Team South Africa’s 2016 Olympic medal count into double figures on a hot Saturday evening in Rio as she ran to a predictable 800-metre win.
The 25-year old went into the race as one of the hottest favourites in sporting history and her season’s best of 1min 55.33sec was almost a full second ahead of her closest rival.
Going into the race on the back of an early dinner of guava, paw-paw, grapes and banana, she said: ‘I need this sugar, it really helps me in that last 100m kick!’ And by the time 1min 55.28sec of racing was done and dusted she’d rewritten the season’s record with a sweet world best for the two-lapper.
Forget the fact that it wasn’t close to being one of the top 10 fastest 800m times in history. It was still the fifth fastest time in Olympic history. Starting in lane three she made sure she was at the front from the get-go and staying out of any argie-bargie. She hit the bell in 57.59 and it was then that her closest rival (on paper anyway!) Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi did her best to take the sting out of Semenya’s legs. She managed to forge a gap of a few metres going down the back page.
How Team SA fared on Saturday
South Africa had competitors in action across three different codes on Saturday’s penultimate day of Rio 2016. Here is a breakdown and their times (SA in brackets).
Women’s 800m final: Caster Semenya won the race in 1min 55.28sec to take the gold medal. ‘The race was a bit quick, but I was being patient and did what I do best. Be patient and wait for the right moment,’ she said. ‘The field was very good.’ The world record stands at 1:53.28.
Men’s 5 000m final: Elroy Gelant finished 11th in 13:17:47 behind the brilliant British distance runner Mo Farah who claimed gold in 13:03.30.
Women’s individual competition: Paulo Reto and Ashleigh Simon
In a nutshell: Reto started the day at four under par and Simon at eight over par for the tournament. Reno had nine straight pars before bogeying Nos 10, 11 and 15, but making birdies at 14, 16 and finishing off with a birdie at the par-5 18th hole to end level for the day. She finished in a tie for 16th after rounds of 74, 67, 68 and 71 for 280, four-under par.
Simon signed for a four-over 75 for the day, 12-over for the tournament, finishing 50th after rounds of 75, 69, 77 and 75 for 296.
Women’s event: Mari Rabie and Gill Sanders
In a nutshell: Rabie finished 11th behind Gwen Jorgensen of the United States. The South African, in her second Olympics, had showed up well after the swim and the bike, but faded on the run and finished 2min 57sec behind the gold medallist, timing 1:59.13. Rabie came out the water third in 19:04 and she was quickest off the bike and into the run, leading the field out. Sanders finished 23rd in 2:01.29, with a strong performance on the run helping her.