13 AUGUST 2016
Manyonga is Team SA’s man of the moment with a memorable silver
By Mark Etheridge
One tiny centimetre stood between Team South Africa’s first gold medal at these 2016 Olympic Games after long jumper Luvo Manyonga leapt to the rainbow nation’s fourth silver on Saturday night. Until now, swimming (three) and rowing (one) have brought silverware to the medals table while sevens rugby served up a bronze.
And for a few yawning minutes Manyonga’s sixth and final leap of 8.37 metres seemed to have broken the gold drought. Almost too scared to watch, Manyonga lay flat on his back gazing up into the Rio night as he dared to dream of gold.
And then it all came down to earth again as American Jeff Henderson turned South Africa’s golden hopes into silver with a final jump of his own that saw him launch himself 8.38m into the sandpit and seal the gold.
How Team SA fared on Saturday
Team SA had action in three codes on Saturday. Here is how they fared (times are Rio local and in brackets SA time). South Africa started the day with five medals.
Women’s 400m heats: Tsholofelo Thipe finished fourth in heat three with a time of 52.80 and Justine Palframan seventh in heat four with a 53.96.
In a nutshell: Thipe went off in lane seven with a season’s best 51.96 season’s best to her name. Running against American superstar Allyson Felix, Thipe quite literally stumbled over the line as the chasers hauled her in. Only the first two in each eight heats gained automatic qualification. Palframan went off hard but, like Thipe, didn’t have much left in the tank and trailed in last.
What they said: (Thipe) ‘I’m very disappointed with my race. I knew I was in a race with good people who could take me to a good time and a top two placing. I watched myself on the big screen for most of the race and knew they were coming at the end. I really wanted to be in the top three so that’s why I had to dive for that line.’ (Palframan) ‘Yes I’m disappointed in my time because my training has been going very well. The crowds were amazing, especially for a morning heat! The lane draw wasn’t great but you take what you get and lane eight is better than lane one! I went out pretty quickly and then when they caught me I couldn’t pull away again. The goal was to get out in front and then kick again at the end but obviously the kick wasn’t there at the end.’
Men’s 100m heats: Henricho Bruintjies ended sixth in heat six (10.33), Akani Simbine won heat eight in 10.14.
In a nutshell: For Bruintjies there was heartbreak but Simbine soared into the semi-finals. Bruintjies didn’t look bad in the early stages but in the final few metres a few opponents flew past him and with only first and second place guaranteed semi-final slots it was never going to be enough. Simbine looked impressive with a good start and controlled his heat from start to finish and looked to have plenty in the tank for Sunday’s semi-finals and, dare we dream, a final. Simbine ended as joint 13th and Bruintjies 44th of 69 finishers in the summary of the heats.
What they said: (Bruintjies) ‘No excuses, just a bad day at the office, although I did lose focus between the warm-up and the race. There were about 40min between the two and I lost focus, normally they have blocks and stuff. It feels like a fast track though, the atmosphere and crowd were great, the weather was warm which we need for good sprinting but it was just a bad day for me.’ (Simbine) ‘It was a good opener for me but I know if I can get my start sharper and out of the blocks a bit quicker then I know it’ll come together for me. I didn’t watch the big screen or anything, just the guys around me. The plan was for me to get out there and make it my race, control it. It’s good that first race (always the worst race) is
not out of the way and behind me. Now I can go and go forward. The atmosphere is amazing out there. I got quite a few shouts of my name which I used for confidence. I know I can get out of the blocks quicker and I know I need to get out in the semis’.
Men’s 400m semi-finals, Wayde van Niekerk ended second in the second of three semi-finals with a time of 44.45sec to qualify for Sunday night’s final.
In a nutshell: Van Niekerk looked a lot more relaxed than Friday’s heats. He got out strongly and had the luxury of being able to coast home in second as Trinidad and Tobago’s Machel Cedonio won in 44.39. The first two in each heat make the final automatically. On this occasion, Van Niekerk could afford to settle for second best. The first semi saw Olympic champion Kirani James head off LaShawn Merritt with times of 44.02 and 44.21.
What he said: ‘I felt very comfortable, very relaxed and got to open up way more than yesterday. I’m not concerned at who reaches the final, Kirani James, La Shawn Merritt, and all their accomplishments speak for themselves. I’m just grateful to be in the race with them and to be able to go out and challenge them.
It’s just one more big push in the final and then the Olympics are done. I’m not worried about the lane draw, we’re all running 400m. As for pressure? No pressure at all. I just need to get back and have a good rest so I’m ready for tomorrow.’
Women’s 100m semi-finals, Carina Horn ended seventh in the third and final semi-final in a time of 11.20 and failed to progress.
In a nutshell: Horn was always going to be up against with the likes of Elaine Thompson and English Gardner in her heat and just two places guaranteed of final participation. And so it proved to be as the Jamaican and US duo ran times of 10.88 and 10.90 respectively. She would have had to go some just to make the final as the slowest qualifier was a 10.96 – 0.10sec than any South African women has ever run.
What she said: ‘I run against these girls so often but wow, this is just something completely different, a total new vibe. No excuses but I’ve had a bit of flu and a right hamstring problem but in all reality I would have had to break an SA record to get into the final here. Now I’ve still got a few races left this season and we’ll take it from there.’
Men’s long jump final: Luvo Manyonga won silver with a jump of 8.37m and Ruswahl Samaai was ninth with 7.97m.
In a nutshell: They went into the final and both broke the psychological eightmetre barrier and with long jump, it sounds silly, but anything can happen on the day, with rhythm being a key factor. On this occasion it was Manyonga who stepped up to the plate with a silver that was just a centimetre from being gold. He had put the pressure on the field with a leap of 8.28 on his fourth attempt. Samaai disappointed on the night but with a personal best of 8.38 still under his belt that’s the same jump that won gold on Saturday. Read the story of Manyonga’s miracle elsewhere on the site.
What Samaai said: I’m just so happy for Luvo, he and Khotso Mokoena [silver medal in long jump at the 2008 Beijing Olympics] were the guys who opened the gates for us and he’s just an amazing talent.
Men’s 10,000m final, Stephen Mokoka ended 18th in a time of 27:54.57 as Mo Farah defended his Olympic title successfully.
In a nutshell: Mokoka was about six seconds off his season’s best of 27:48.84 and would have been happy to see that he’s not at all disgraced in a field of this calibre.
What he said: Mo is so strong in his mind and it’s his time… God gives you time and it’s his time. And I also ran under 28min at a major championship. If you come into a race here it always gets better. This was my best race of my life. My aim was to run a little faster but this time they were here, only about 200m away from me when they finished. Conditions were tough but everyone went through them. Now I’ll rest a bit and then prepare for a marathon later in the year. It was good to come here and get some speed for that.
Men’s 800m semi-finals, Rynardt van Rensburg ended fifth in the second of two semi-finals in a time of 1:45.33
What to expect: Van Rensburg ran a season’s best 1:45.67 to get out of the heats and went even better in the semi-final stage, notching a season’s best time. It wasn’t enough to pull him through but a season’s best followed by a personal best will see him leaving his first Olympics with a spring in his step.
What he said: ‘To run my best time in the Olympic semis, I just can’t be sad, or expect more hey? The biggest lesson I’ve learnt here is that these guys are also human with two arms and two legs. With the correct mindset and hard work you can run with them. If you want to get the top you have to run with them. A few years ago these guys were my idols and now I’m running next to them. So I’ll continue dreaming big and not stop working hard. For now it’s maybe two or three races in Europe because I’m in good shape and then a rest and will start working hard for next year.
Men’s third round: Jaco van Zyl shot a third round one-under 70, which included a hole-in-one at the eighth hole. He is tied for 39th after rounds of 71, 74 and 70 for two over 215. Brandon Stone is in 50th position after shooting a par 71 for five over 218 headed into the final round.
1.05 (6.05pm) and four races after 1.15 (6.15pm): Men’s Laser, Race 9 and 10, Stefano Marcia