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Athletes join medal rush

Athletics has taken over from where swimming left off as South Africa’s medal count mounted at the┬á Zone VI Games in Swaziland on Wednesday, writes Mark Etheridge.

Swimming ended their four days of competition with 14 medals on their last day in the pool — seven gold, six silver and a bronze.

That brought their total medal tally to 55 for the Games, 12 on the first day 13 on the second and 16 on the third. Their total number of golds for the Games was 28.

South Africa’s total medal tally now stands at an impressive 78 with three days of competition still to come although the only sport featured on Saturday is soccer.

On Wednesday the athletics competition entered the second day of competition after Team South Africa had taken eight medals in this code the previous day.

Such has been the dominance of South Africa in these Under-20 games that discus specialists Dewalt van Heerden and Charl Grobler as well as javeliner Dean Goosen entered the shot put event and promptly took all three medals on offer in the event on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday visually impaired athletes Denzwil Maans and Jacque Joubert had won gold and bronze respectively in the T12 and T13 100m finals.

On Wednesday the athletes accounted for nine medals, five gold, three silvers and a bronze.

The highlight was world junior long jump champion Luvo Manyonga winning his event, with just one jump needed to hit paydirt.

He warmed up, leapt 7.78 metres and promptly put his tracksuit back on, confident there was no-one to come close to him.

“I would have liked to jump 8m but the sand is quite hard so I don’t want to risk anything,” said the 19-year-old who needed 7.99m to win the world junior title in Moncton, Canada earlier this year. He could have added that he needed a bigger sandpit, he was perilously close to the edge with his sole effort.

Dean Goosen (61.09m) and Rocco van Rooyen (60.71) took gold and silver in the men’s javelin and then it was the turn of the track athletes.

Other golds went to Anuschka Nice (800m, 2min 08.97sec), Justine Palframan (200m, 23.81) and Wayde van Niekerk in the final event of the day, the men’s 200m (21.64). Silvers went to Juan-Mare Senekal (400m hurdles, 61.64) and Shaun van Wyk (400m hurdles, 52.94). The sole bronze went to Rynardt van Rensburg in the 800m where he clocked 1:53.22 after taking a two month break from the sport earlier this year.

Sprinter Van Niekerk narrowly missed out on the bronze medal at World Juniors in Canada and certainly looks a class act for the future. “My legs are a bit tired from the 100m yesterday [he got silver] and I’m also running the 4x100m and 4x400m relay still so I eased up a bit,” said the Bloemfontein based youngster who has a best of 21.02.

In other news from the various codes being contested around the Swazi kingdom:

The women’s netballers beat Botswana 42-33 and look set to play them again in the sem-finals.

The women’s basketballers beat Lesotha 108-31

Our men’s footballers beat Malawi 3-1 and the SA women beat Zimbabwe 1-0.

All our tennis players are now through to the finals after cleaning up in the singles with Eden D’Oliveira and Stefan Fortmann taking the honours on Tuesday.


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