1 August 2014
Cornel Fredericks beat a world-class field that included the reigning world champion to claim gold in the 400 metres hurdles at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on Thursday, while the country’s lawn bowlers continued to shine.
By day’s end, South Africa had won 11 gold, 10 silver and 15 bronze medals, bringing their total to 36 medals, already three more than the team won in Delhi in 2010, but with one gold medal less. Those figures could improve over the next few days.
400m hurdles winner
Fredericks defeated a line-up featuring reigning world champion Jehue Gordon to take the title in the 400 metres hurdles. He stopped the clock in 48.50 seconds, with Trinidad and Tobago’s Gordon placing second in 48.75 and Jeffrey Gibson of the Bahamas third in 48.78.
Describing his title-winning effort, Fredericks said: “As I ran round the final bend I remembered my former coach from the UK, Bruce Longden, tell me to ‘stay tall and run fast’, and that came into my mind. I just stayed tall and gave my everything.
“Yesterday I told myself I needed a good lane draw, so ensured I won the semi,” he continued. “This season I have raced well against top athletes and I trained hard in the off-season. Today it paid off in the major championships.”
Andre Olivier added a bronze medal to the South African haul when he finished third in a tactical final to the 800 metres. Olivier’s training partner, Nijel Amos of Botswana, outsprinted world record holder David Rudisha to win the gold.
“I wasn’t wanting to get tangled with Nijel, so moved wide to get space. Over the last 50m, I just closed my eyes and went for the line, as I saw Nijel and Rudisha racing for gold,” Olivier said, after clocking 1:46.03.
“We knew Rudisha would not take it out too quick, around 51, 52 seconds, so we just had to get ourselves into a good position for the last 100 and just go for it.
“The goal since we started training in December was Commonwealth Games,” he added. “The coach was saying we want medals, medals and it’s been about medals at the Commonwealth since then.”
Personal best in 200m
Akani Simbine qualified for the final of the 200 metres, but Wayde van Niekerk, after his efforts in winning silver in the 400 metres the previous evening, missed out. In the medal race, Simbine finished fifth in a personal best of 20.37 seconds as Jamaica took a 1-2-3, with Rasheed Dwyer claiming the title.
Wenda Theron contested the final of the women’s 400 metres hurdles but was disqualified, while Victor “Hulk” Hogan had a disappointing discus competition in the cold and wet conditions.
He had two no-throws and a poor third throw of 56.42m, which meant he didn’t qualify for the final three throws. Hogan had topped his qualifying group with a distance of 64.16 metres, which was better than Vikas Shive Gowda’s gold medal winning distance.
Lawn bowls team’s golden record
The bowlers gave Team South Africa an early boost when they won the Open Triples B6/7/8 title, defeating New Zealand 13-11 in the final. That victory gave South Africa a record fourth gold medal in a single Commonwealth Games and bettered their table-topping haul of three golds in India four years ago.
Playing in testing conditions that changed back and forth from drizzle to sun, the combination of Deon van der Vyver, Roger Hagerty and skip Derrick Lobban, took an early lead out to 7-1 after four ends, but conceded shots back to even pegging at 7-7 with 8 ends remaining. The South Africans, however, picked up their game and came away with the win.
“It was a ding-dong battle from midway to the end,” Hagerty said afterwards. “It’s got to be the pinnacle of my bowls career in both able-bodied and disabled,” he added.
“Hopefully they can build off this to get a higher profile [for bowls]. It’s a game of skill, and we need to use the [gold] medals of the visually impaired and disabled side to raise the profile of para-bowls.”
Susan Nel, Santjie Steyn and Esme Steyn won bronze in the women’s trips by beating Wales. The teams were level at 10-10 when the Welsh picked up four shots, but from that point on it was all South Africa as they coped well with the rain to run out 23-14 winners.
There is a possibility of a further gold medal for Team South Africa in the bowls’ competition after the ladies pairs’ duo of Colleen Piketh and Tracy Lee Botha defeated Wales and Jersey to secure a place in the final.
In the wrestling arena, meanwhile, Armando Hietbrink seemed almost stunned by the suddenness of it all after he claimed a bronze medal in the 86kg class by pinning Kenya’s Peter Onyango Omenda in just 42 seconds.
Hockey semi-finals miss
On the hockey pitch, the South African men’s team missed out on the semi-finals when they were beaten 5-2 by India. With Andrew Cronje and Jonty Robinson sidelined by injuries, coach Fabian Gregory had only three players on his bench.
The Indians were at their best in the first half, tearing South Africa apart to race into a 4-0 halftime lead. Showing impressive character, Austin Smith and company hit back with two goals after the break, scored by Taine Paton and Smith, but India found a fifth goal with 13 minutes left to secure their passage into the final four.
Time trial disappointment
Cyclists Ashleigh Moolman Pasio and Heidi Dalton finished well out of the running in the time trial, with Moolman Pasio placing 15th and Dalton 20th. New Zealand’s Linda Villumsen took victory to win the 600th medal for New Zealand in the history of the Commonwealth Games.
“It was a tough course. I really hadn’t focused on this event. It’s the road race where I have the medal potential,” Moolman told reporters. “It was good to get on the road, but it was not a good result for me.”
At the close of competition on Thursday, England topped the table with 44 gold, 40 silver, and 39 bronze medals, for a total of 123 medals in all.
Australia was in second place with 36 gold, 36 silver and 41 bronze medals and 113 medals overall.
Canada, with 27 gold, 13 silver and 25 bronze medals, was in third, having won a total of 65 medals.
Scotland was in fourth, India fifth, New Zealand sixth and South Africa remained in seventh place.