31 July 2014
South Africa had racked up 31 medals by the end of competition at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on Wednesday, moving them to within two medals of their total haul in India four years ago.
A total of five medals were claimed on the day, four of them in athletics and one in wrestling.
Long jumpers Zarck Visser and Rushwal Samaai captured the silver and bronze medals respectively, while Wayde van Niekerk added a silver in the 400 metres, and Sunette Viljoen claimed a further silver in the javelin. Mpho Madi picked up a bronze medal in the women’s 53kg freestyle wrestling competition.
Long jump competition
In an enthralling competition, Visser and Samaai pushed England’s Olympic champion Greg Rutherford all the way, and drew the big crowd in with their enthusiasm and interaction.
Rutherford eventually won with a distance of 8.20m, with Visser recording a best of 8.12m, and Samaai leaping 8.08m.
In the final of the 400 metres, Wayde van Niekerk followed world number one Kirani James across the finishing line, with James clocking 44.24 and Van Niekerk 44.68.
“My goal was to get into the top three from the blocks. My strength is the first 200, so I went quite fast out,” Van Niekerk told reporters.
“When I came out of the last 100, I knew second was mine. I know Kirani’s last bit is quite strong. I knew I should keep up with him as far as possible. I tried pushing and thought I could catch him, but reality hit me in the last 40.”
Australia was poised for a 1-2-3 finish in the early going in the women’s javelin competition, but Sunette Viljoen, who had won gold at the previous two Commonwealth Games, responded well to move up to second place. However, she fell to third when Kelsey-Lee Roberts unleashed a big throw of 62.95m with her sixth and final attempt.
Showing impressive temperament, Viljoen then hurled the javelin 63.19m to capture the silver medal, much to her delight, with her final throw. Kim Mickle of Australia claimed the gold medal with a Commonwealth Games’ record distance of 65.96 metres.
“It was an absolutely amazing competition to be part of. This was the competition where I had to show nerves of steel to win the silver on my last throw, but I am so proud of this medal from where I have come in my sport and my personal life over the last two years,” Viljoen said afterwards.
“I had five throws of 62m, which was a brilliant series.
“When I dropped back to fourth in the last round, I tried to remain calm. I’m proud of this medal and the belief I showed in myself,” she added.
Andre Olivier qualified for the final of the 800 metres with an intelligent run in the semi-finals. He set the pace in his heat, passing through the 400-metre mark in just under 51 seconds, before going on to finish in 1:46.30, comfortably in third place.
“I saw the first semi was a bit slow, so I opted to take it out fast and knew if I made the top five I’d be through,” Olivier said.
Wrestler Mpho Madi clinched bronze in the 53kg freestyle competition when she defeated Scotland’s Shannon Hawke by fall.
A further South African medal was guaranteed when welterweight boxer Tulz Mbenge won his quarterfinal against Samoa’s Henry Tyrell, winning all three rounds of the clash by scores of 10-9, 10-8 and 10-9.
The South African women’s hockey team got the result they needed when they beat India 3-2 to secure a place in the semi-finals of the competition.
Goals from Tarryn Bright, Dirkie Chamberlain and Ilse Davids were enough to see Giles Bonnet’s charges into the final four, while India replied through Jaspreet Kaur and Rani Rampaul.
South Africa face a massive challenge in the last four, going up against Australia, who finished second at the recent World Cup in the Netherlands, and who have scored 25 goals without reply in four games at the Commonwealth Games. England and New Zealand will meet in the other semi-final.