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Para full house at AAG

By Mark Etheridge
in Maputo

Team South Africa’s medal hunt gathered momentum in Mozambique on Thursday as they celebrated 22 more medals at the 10th All Africa Games here.

The total medal count now stands at 69 after five days of competition. Again it was swimming who captured the bulk of metalware with 13 in total. Thursday saw the first para-swimming of the programme and did they come to the party!

They swam in two races, the women’s 100m freestyle (S6-10 class) and the men’s 100m freestyle (S6-10) and scooped up every medal on offer.

Natalie Du Toit, Shireen Sapiro and Emily Gray ended 1-2-3 as did Kevin Paul, Achmat Hassiem and Kevin Waller.

Said a victorious Paul of Port Elizabeth: “It’s been a long year now and I’ve travelled a lot but it’s good to be here. I’ve basically been competing around the world from June through to September now.

A second year law student at Nelson Mandela Metropole University, Paul still has the 200m Individual Medley to complete. “I’ve got my Aqua-bears club gala coming up in PE, the biggest club gala in the country, and then I’m off to a para-athletics meeting in Brazil.”

In the able-bodied programme there were another eight medals for the team.

Four of them were gold. Many Loots won the women’s 100m butterfly (59.86), Suzaan van Biljon won the women’s 100m breaststroke (1:10.40), Roxanne Tammage the 800m free (8:54.64) and then the men teamed up to take the 4x100m free relay. Leith Shankland led off, followed by Chad le Clos and then Gideon Louw swam a ripper of a third leg before Darian Townsend.

There were four silvers and four bronzes to go along with the six golds.

Canoeing once again came to the party with another four medals up the coast.

First medal of the day though came in the cycling which almost saw the wheels coming off the event when government were reluctant to close the roads for the men’s and women’s time trial events.

The women’s 13km TT was delayed for 90 minutes. Once it got underway there were still some curveballs with our two representatives both went wrong, twice!

When all was said and done though Pretoria’s Lise Olivier won gold in 19min 59.40sec and Lynette Burger bronze in 21:02.78.

“It was tough,” said Olivier. “I must have lost at least 30-40sec and the surface was pretty bumpy so you had to concentrate all the time. Still, it’s the most prestigious win of my career,” said the full-time MTN-Qhubeka professional rider who will be hoping to represent SA at the continental championships in Eritrea later this year.

The men’s TT was held over two laps of 13km and our two riders, Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg and Darren Lill were among the third and last wave.

Janse van Rensburg, also from Pretoria, was in a class of his own, carving through the field to win in 34:46.34 at an average speed of 45km/h and Lill was next best in 35:27.34 for the silver medal. A rushed medal ceremony saw Lill having to hastily borrow team manager Barry Austin’s training shoes in order to look respectable on the podium.

 


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