23 December 2010
Fifth place for Team SA at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. Boston Marathon title number nine for Ernst van Dyk. A Guinness World Record for the Comrades Marathon … we continue our wrap-up of the South African sporting year that was.
In October, Team South Africa finished fifth at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India. They won 33 medals in total, including 12 golds.
Swimming proved to be South Africa’s strongest sport, with Natalie du Toit winning three golds, and Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh two apiece.
South African bowlers continued their fine record at the Commonwealth Games by claiming three gold medals, with the men’s and women’s fours as well as the men’s pairs picking up titles in some exciting clashes.
Wrestling wasn’t part of the programme at Melbourne 2006, but in New Delhi it was, and South Africa wrestlers secured five medals, four of them silvers, including two for Richard Addinall, and one bronze.
Riding the wave of excitement generated by the 2010 Fifa World Cup, the 85th edition of the Comrades Marathon was the second largest in the history of the race. Over 23 000 people entered and 14 343 finished.
Guinness World Records subsequently recognised the Comrades Marathon as having “the most runners in an ultra-marathon”. It was a fact that had long been claimed by the organisers, and the prestigious Guinness recognition finally gave it the seal of worldwide approval.
For the second year in succession, Zimbabwe’s Stephen Muzhingi won the Comrades “down run” from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, while Russia’s Elena Nurgalieva took victory in the women’s race for a record fifth time. That record is, however, still four shy of the men’s mark set by the Comrades King, Bruce Fordyce.
Boston Marathon title number nine
South Africa had a brilliant marathon champion of its own as Ernst van Dyk captured the Boston Marathon wheelchair title for a record ninth time in 2010.
“Whether it’s number nine, number 8 or number 17, it doesn’t matter to me, but now that it is number nine and I’m the only person in the history of this race to win number nine, I think it’s an honor and I need to appreciate what it is,” Van Dyk said after his victory.
He holds the wheelchair world record for the marathon, set in the Boston Marathon in 2004, of one hour, 18 minutes and 27 seconds.
South African Tennis Open
On home soil, tennis continued to make a push for a return to its former status of an important sport in South Africa.
In the past, the South African Tennis Open had been regarded as an important event on the ATP Tour, with past winners including Grand Slam winners Vitas Gerulaitis, Pat Cash and Johan Kriek.
In February, Feliciano Lopez became the first Spaniard to win the South African Tennis Open when he outplayed Frenchman Stephane Robert in the final, winning 7-5, 6-1.
Rohan Bopanna of India and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan edged the Slovakian/Israeli duo of Karol Beck and Harel Levy 2-6 6-4 10-5 (champions tiebreaker) in the doubles final. Later in the year they reached the final of the US Open.
There was more top tennis on South Africa soil in April at the Soweto Open, which was held at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium.
Jamaica’s Donald Brown downed the big-serving South African Izak vander Merwe 7-6, 6-3 to lift the men’s silverware, while Russia’s Nina Bratchikova ousted a string of seeded players on her way to the women’s title, which she claimed with a 7-5, 7-6 victory over Thailand’s Tamarine Tanasugarn.
Among South African players, Wesley Moodie shone the brightest. He confirmed his status as one of the world’s leading doubles players by qualifying for the ATP World Tour finals for a third time.
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