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Hendrik & Co take strain

By Mark Etheridge

As Tropical Storm Molave whipped across Taiwan Team South Africa were also feeling something like whipping boys (and girls) on day four of the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan on Sunday.

The women’s tug-of-war team battled gamely but were outclassed in the 520kg category, losing all five of their round-robin games.

And then Johannes Hendrik, Cape Town’s pint-sized bodybuilder with the heart of a lion, placed sixth and last in the men’s bodybuilding competition.

The tug-of-war team lost to the Netherlands, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Great Britain and the Ukraine.Surprisingly they managed to survive for the longest pulls against world champions and hosts Chinese Taipei, lasting 1min 25sec and 56 respectively.

But in truth for the South African team, this was not a case of girls against women, it was a case of girls up against figurative giants.

The Chinese Taipei side steamrollered over all in their way, going through to the final unbeaten where they demolished the Netherlands in two pulls of 2:12 and 1:40.

Clad all in white the host team resembled a giant shongololo worm on steroids as their bodies worked in perfect harmony.
But as SA coach Anton Gerber confirmed, the playing fields, or in this case the NSYSU Guo-Guang School gymnasium, are not level.

“Put it like this. Our girls are very young and inexperienced for a tug-of-war team. And they’ve been training for just two months. The Chinese Taipei side that won today, with the exception of maybe one member, is the same side that won the World Games in Germany four years ago and they also went into a six-month camp building up to these Games. You can’t compete against that!

“But we won’t give up. We have world championships in February in Italy and if I can keep this team together and get regular competition etc we will be up near the medals in four years time.”

Said manager Wanda Jonck: “The girls’ hearts are sore but their spirit is not broken. We have an excellent training DVD from the coach of the school where we were training and that will help tremendously.”

As for poor Johannes, he was also right up against it in the bodybuilding. Competing as a bantamweight in a lightweight division he was always going to be dwarfed by his competitors.Still, he didn’t stand back and was certainly not disgraced.
“He phoned me almost in tears,” said manger and contest judge, Bill Lavagne-Slater. “He felt he let South Africa down but I told him that was nothing of the case. He was competing under unfair conditions. And the other competitors told him as well so he’s feeling a bit better now.”

Monday sees South Africa’s two ten-pin bowlers in action.

Johannesburg’s Guy Caminsky and Gaye Mack will team up in the mixed doubles event at the Happy Bowling Centre and hopefully there’ll be a happy ending for the two.

“There are 23 teams and the format is first round, then the top 10 teams into semis and finals,” explained manger Stan Caminsky.

“I think we’ve got more chance of a medal in the men’s singles than the team category but with ten-pin anything can happen.”


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