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Athletes take Team SA to new heights

By Gareth Duncan in Lusaka, Zambia

Team South Africa reached a new Zone VI Games milestone on Wednesday thanks to the successful outing from their athletics team.

The track and field athletes claimed 18 medals on the second day of athletics at the Under-20 tournament ÔÇô six more than the squad managed on Tuesday. This contribution took South Africa’s overall medal tally to 112, which surpasses the nation’s 105 medals achieved at the 2010 instalment in Swaziland.

Sprint star Akani Simbini headlined the field again, winning gold in the men’s 200-metre in fine style. After setting a new South African junior 100m record with a time of 10.19s, the Johannesburg-born 19-year-old ran a 20.69s against the wind to win the 200m final. Team-mate Siphelo Ngqabaza (21.12s) came third.

‘I’m very proud of my performance today ÔÇô I’m still surprised,’ Simbini told RoadtoRio.co.za. ‘I’m still going through my pre-season phase, but I’m managing to get these quick times. I’m confident I can go faster. I’ll continue working hard.’

In the women’s 200m final, Chante van Tonder won silver and Phillipa van der Merwe won bronze as they were edged by their Botswana counterpart. Both sprinters also medalled in the 100m final on Tuesday.

The 800m runners reeled in four medals. In the women’s race, Thato Makhafola (2:11:25) and Sunel Jacobs (2:11:81) won gold and silver respectively. Thapelo Madiba (1:52:20) and Emile Pieterse (1:53:47) finished first and third respectively in the men’s final.

The visually-impaired athletes also made a valuable medal contribution as they earned five podium finishes. Jacques Joubert won his second gold medal as he won the men’s 200m T12 final.

Off the track, South Africa also excelled.

There were gold and silver finishes in the women’s shot put thanks to Lezaan Jordaan (14.91m) and Ischke Senekal (13.96m). In the men’s long jump, Mpho Maphutha reached 7.33m to win his event, while Francois Coetzee came third with a leap of 6.95m.

Reinhard van Zyl placed second in the men’s javelin with a throw of 61.38m.


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