28 July 2014
South Africa claimed five gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on the weekend. With five silvers and eight bronzes also in the bag, the team moved up to seventh place on the medals table.
Winning performances were delivered in a variety of sports, including lawn bowls, judo, swimming, and sevens rugby.
The team’s first gold came from Herman Scholtz and Gyndolene Nel, who claimed the para mixed pairs visually-impaired bowls title with a hard-fought 14-10 victory over the hosts, Scotland.
‘She played brilliantly’
“She played brilliantly. We knew we just had to cover and everything would be done,” Scholtz said afterwards.
“We played well during the round robin stage and definitely thought we had a chance, but we knew it would be tough.”
“I think the Commonwealth Games gold is the most important medal [I have won],” Nel said. “I have many but I wanted this one after playing for 40 years.”
There was more title-winning success for South African bowlers in the women’s fours. Susan Nel, Tracy-Lee Botha, Santjie Steyn and Esme Steyn showed impressive composure to defeat Malaysia 14-9 for the gold medal after trailing 4-9 at the end of the ninth end.
They then rallied off scores of 4, 1, 1, 2, 1 and 1 to secure the title.
Colleen Piketh continued the bowls’ teams fine run of results by picking up a bronze medal with a 21-10 defeat of Northern Ireland’s Catherine McMillan in the battle for third place in the women’s singles.
Bowls was a strong sport for South Africa at the Commonwealth games in Delhi in 2010. Swimming was too, and like bowls, the sport continued to deliver the goods at the Commonwealth Games, this time at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre.
Le Clos gold
Chad le Clos led the way, adding the Commonwealth Games title to his Olympic and World Championships titles in the 200 metres butterfly.
He was a convincing winner in a Games’ record time of 1:55.07, with Australia’s Grant Irvine placing second and Sebastien Rosseau adding a bronze for South Africa.
“It was according to plan. It wasn’t about a time. My goal was to get my hands to the wall first,” Le Clos said after securing victory.
Rousseau also won bronze in the 400 metres individual medley after leading for a good deal of the race.
Le Clos, meanwhile, was third in the 50 metres butterfly, with the veteran Roland Schoeman placing second behind England’s Ben Proud, who won in a Games’ record of 22.93 seconds.
Freestyle relay silver
Both men were part of the 4 by 100m freestyle relay team that added a silver when they placed second behind Australia.
Olympic champion and world record holder Cameron van der Burgh was beaten into second place in the 100m breaststroke, but looked very impressive in qualifying fastest for the 50m final. His time of 26.80 was not far off his own world record of 26.67.
There was another bronze medal for the South African team in the final of the 4 x 200m freestyle relay.
Judo had last been contested at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002. Zach Piontek would have been only 12 years of age at the time. Now, aged 24, he secured the biggest title of his career when he claimed gold in the men’s middleweight division, defeating Scotland’s Matthew Purssey in the final
Heavyweight Ruan Snyman added a silver, losing out to Scotland’s Christopher Sherrington for gold, while Jacques van Zyl, competing in the lightweight division, joined Siyabulela Mabula as a bronze medallist.
On Sunday evening, the South African Sevens rugby team ended New Zealand’s long run as Commonwealth Games’ champions. The Kiwis had won the title four times in succession, ever since Sevens was introduced to the Games in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur.
The Blitzbokke were impressive throughout the tournament, incisive and fast on attack, disciplined and united on defence.
They began their challenge by running roughshod through Pool B, beating Trinidad and Tobago 36-0, the Cook Islands 50-0 and Kenya 20-0.
Then, in the quarterfinals, they saw off Scotland 35-7. They followed that up with a one-sided 35-7 win over Samoa to reach the gold medal game.
Facing New Zealand, Neil Powell’s charges suffered an early blow when captain Kyle Brown had to leave the field with a shoulder injury. They never lost their focus and composure, however, and after going behind to a Sherwin Stowers’ try found a reply by Seabelo Senatla just before the break to level matters at 7-7.
Senatla went over again early in the second half after being set up by Frankie Horne and Cecil Afrika made it 17-7 after Chris Dry had turned over possession at a ruck.
New Zealand managed a late reply by Joe Webber, but the Blitzbokke hung on for a well-deserved victory.
Triathlon mixed relay
Triathlete Richard Murray won his second medal of the Commonwealth Games, this time adding a silver to his bronze medal, when he anchored the mixed relay team, which also included Henri Schoeman, Kate Roberts and Gillian Sanders, to an impressive second place behind England.
“We were always underdogs,” Sanders said afterwards. “We toyed with the order. I think we got that perfect.
“We lost space in the first leg, but Henri swam magnificently to close up. I just hung on in the third leg and Richard, being our superstar, just ran his heart out to get a medal. We just wanted a medal and silver’s fantastic.”