Team SA on a roll in Melbourne

22 March 2006

Swimming sensation Roland Schoeman finished off his assault at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne with another gold medal – this time in the 50 metres freestyle – while Babalwa Ndleleni captured bronze in the weightlifting to become the first black woman weightlifter to win a medal for South Africa.

On the final day in the swimming pool, Schoeman clocked a fast 22.03 seconds to claim his third title after previous successes in the 50 metres butterfly and 4×100 metres freestyle relay. In so doing, he also established a new Commonwealth Games record, bettering the 22.30 recorded by Australian Brett Hawke at Manchester in 2002.

‘I’m excited, it’s awesome’
“I’m excited, it’s awesome,” Schoeman said after his third victory. “I knew I needed to have a better start in the final and fortunately I did.”

Also in the pool, Midmar Mile champion Troyden Prinsloo picked up a bronze medal in the 1 500 metres freestyle, turning in a time of 15:11.08.

Team South Africa impressed in the aquatic events, finishing with five golds, two silvers and five bronze medals in the water.

Remarkable Ndleleni
Babalwa Ndleleni, competing in the 75 kilogram category, lifted a South African record 104 kilograms in the clean and jerk and 78 kilograms in the snatch for a total of 182 kilograms.

What made Ndleleni’s success all the more remarkable was that she was ranked just sixteenth in the Commonwealth heading into the Games.

Australia’s Deborah Lovely took gold with a total of 208 kilograms, six kilograms more than second-placed Sheba Deireragea of Narau.

‘Best night as an athlete’
In athletics events, meanwhile, South Africans shone in the field.

Janus Robberts, so often a disappointment in major events, made up for it in a big way by capturing gold in the men’s shot put on Monday. The 120-kilogram giant recorded a distance of 19.76 metres with his third effort to take the title by a centimetre over Jamaica’s Dorian Scott, whose best put came with his final throw.

“This night is my best night as an athlete. I will never forget this,” Robberts said after winning the biggest title of his career.

Also on Monday, Geraldine Pillay picked up silver in the women’s 100 metres in 11.31 seconds. Jamaican Sherri-Ann Brooks won gold in 11.19.

In the men’s 100 metres for elite athletes with a disability, Hilton Langehoven added another silver to the South African medal tally with his time of 11.22 seconds.

There was further success in the field events for South Africa on Tuesday as Elizna Naude, the African record holder, won the women’s discus. Her winning throw of 61.55 metres left her a centimetre shy of a one-metre margin over second-placed Seema Antil of India.

Shooting success
Further success followed for South Africa followed in the shooting events as Diane Swanton captured the gold medal in the women’s trap on Tuesday. Her 72 points equalled the Games record set by England’s Anita North four years ago.

On Monday, the men’s 25-metres centre fire pistol pairs team had picked up a bronze medal.

Francki van Rooyen achieved success in the individual apparatus finals in women’s gymnastics, laying claim to the bronze medal in the floor routine.

South Africa also took third in the men’s triples of the bowls, defeating England two-one after a tie-break.