Team SA sparkles in Melbourne

27 March 2006

Team South Africa closed off its Commonwealth Games campaign with a flurry of medals in Melbourne over the weekend to secure fifth position on the medals table behind Australia, England, Canada and India.

South Africa finished with 38 medals, made up of 12 gold, 13 silver and 13 bronze medals. While this was less than the 46 medals in total won in Manchester four years ago, the team won three more gold medals than in 2002.

Australia topped the medals table with 221, including 84 golds, followed by England with 110 medals (36 golds), Canada with 86 (26 golds) and India with 50 (22 golds).

Swimmer Roland Schoeman was South Africa’s most successful competitor, winning three gold medals – in the 50 metres butterfly, 50 metres freestyle and 4×100 metres freestyle – as well as bronze in the 100 metres freestyle.

Throwing for gold
The country fared particularly well in field events in athletics, led by gold medalists Janus Robberts in the shot putt, Elizna Naude in the discus, Sunette Viljoen in the javelin, and Anika Smit in the high jump.

On Friday, Chris Harmse, who often in the past has missed major championships because the hammer throw has fallen on a Sunday – he refuses to compete on that day due to his religious beliefs – captured a bronze medal.

His distance of 73.81 metres was a long way off his Commonwealth record of 80.63 metres. Australia’s Stuart Rendall won the event with a throw of 77.53 metres.

Triple jump silver
Khotso Mokoena snatched silver for South Africa in the triple jump on Sunday, registerimg 16.95 metres to finish second to England’s Philips Idowu, who jumped 17.45 metres.

Also on Sunday, the men’s 4×100 metres relay team annexed the silver medal behind Jamaica, running a time of 38.96.

Then, in the final track event, the men’s 4×400 metres relay, SA edged Jamaica by a tenth of a second to claim another silver medal. Australia took the gold.

Boxing success
There was of success for South Africa in the ring on Saturday, with welterweight boxer Bongani Mwelase taking the title from India’s Vijender on a 33-26 decision.

Jackson Chauke claimed silver in the flyweight class, losing in the third round to England’s Don Broadhurst after trailing 25-5.

After his win, Mwelase indicated that he was willing to remain an amateur until the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“This is good for boxing,” Mwelase said. “Maybe there’s some money for me now, but I want to hang on for the Beijing Olympics and the Delhi Commonwealth Games [in 2010].”

Second in road race
On Sunday, David George added another silver medal to South Africa’s medal haul in the cycling road race. Surrounded by a powerful team, George made a decisive break on lap 14 with Ryan Cox and Australia’s Mathew Hayman.

Four kilometres from home, Hayman made his bid for glory, leaving the South African duo trailing in his wake. George, though, held on for second place ahead of pre-race favourite Allan Davis of Australia.

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