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Gold medallist Marais has high hopes for SA lifesaving

World Games veteran Armand Marais was the stand-out performer for the South African lifesaving team at the 22. German Cup in Germany recently, writes Mark Etheridge.

And his impressive return, which included a gold medal in the 50-metre mannikin with fins, has given him fresh inspiration to make it onto the next Team SA line-up at the 2017 World Games in Roclaw, Poland.

Marais won two bronze medals at the World Games in Cali, Colombia earlier this year [see picture, right]┬á but his task was made easier by the fact that the powerful Australian and New Zealand competition weren’t in South America.

“Yes, the field was a lot harder because all five athletes from each country could compete in the race, so instead of racing just two Italians you’d have to race five, so the competition was much deeper,” the Pretoria quantity surveyor told Road to Rio 2016.

Marais was a busy man, competing in 10 events during the two days of competition. “It was a hard and intense competition. You don’t get much rest and the other athletes were tremendously fast, big and in great shape.”

The world record in the 50m dummy swim is 28.94 seconds, meaning Marais was just 0.28sec off the mark. “I couldn’t see anyone in the 50m as I was in the outside lane to it was a case of putting my head down and just paddling. Getting so close to the world record has given me inspiration to go flat out for that record now.”

Apart from his gold record Marais had the added bonus of swimming four personal best times, breaking three SA records and two Commonwealth records.

“Next goal for me will be to repeat this performance at World Championships next year and then try and carry that form over to the next World Games. For me to achieve this kind of success without the kind of support that some of the athletes from the other countries have, makes me wonder just how much can be done with some hard work.”

Marais ended the competition in fifth place overall from 100 plus athletes in the men’s open group while the team ended fifth overall.

He captained the side and came home filled with confidence of our chances going forward.

“I’m very proud of the group we had ÔÇô a great mix of youngsters and seniors. Of the girls I’d say Janke Grobbelaar is one to watch. She’s very strong and her mind is right when it comes to competition. Carmel Bilson is also starting to bring the results so she’s also a big one to watch.

“And in the boys, Dolfie Visser and Francois Rossouw both did very well, so we can expect to see great things from them as well.”


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