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SOUTH AFRICAN SPORTS CONFEDERATION AND OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

Badminton, cycling boost Team SA in Botswana

By Mark Etheridge
in Gaborone, Botswana

Team South Africa’s medal count mounted ever closer to the 50-mark on Tuesday as our swimmers, rowers, judoka and weightlifting codes headed home after all contributing to the medal haul.

The total tally is now 46 and the target of Tunisia’s 58 medals at the inaugural Games in Rabat, Morocco four years ago, gets ever closer.

Codes amongst the medals on Tuesday were, badminton and cycling as the team won another five medals.

With a strong athletics team set to start battle on Wednesday its surely only a matter of time before the 50-medal barrier is broken.

Here’s how the medals were won on Tuesday:

BADMINTON
Two more medals came South Africa’s way as that code wrapped up their performance at the Games.

On Tuesday they won two silver medals. Those went to Free State Janke van der Vyver in the girls’ singles and to Bongani van Bodenstein and Anri Schoonees in the mixed doubles event.

This means that the shuttlecock-swatting squad will take five medals home with them ÔÇô three silver and two bronze.

CYCLING
After already delivering medals in the team time trial it was up to our individuals to make their mark on the fast and flat circuit.

And it was Michelle Benson (pictured) who was right on the money as she blitzed her way to gold over the 10.4-kilometre circuit.

Watched by her ever-encouraging mom, Gerda, The Hoërskool Waterkloof pupil started in the penultimate send-off spot as the 16 junior girls rolled down the ramp at 30-second intervals.

Benson overtook eight of her rivals to end with a time of 15min 18sec. That was good for gold as she bettered Egypt’s Zayed Ebtissam into silver.

Clocked at 16:23 and 16sec outside the bronze medal spot, was our second rider in the individual TT ride, Frances “Frankie” du Toit. Our other road rider, Catherine Colyn would also have ridden the time trial but late regulations meant that only two riders per country were permitted to race. Her time will come in the road race later this week.

Said Benson afterwards: “I went out really hard and then thought I may have gone too hard so in the middle section I took it a bit easier.

“Then I went hard again for the last two kilometres.”

What’s next for the 18-year-old? “Well this was an important title for me because I hope it will get me to the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China later this year.

“When we get back home I’ll concentrate on other road race events like the Kremetart and the Jock of the Bushveld just to get some miles in my legs.”

Emotional and frustrated after her fourth place, Wartburg, KwaZulu-Natal’s Du Toit has no reason to be disappointed. She’s only been racing on the road for the last six months and her chance to shine will come in Friday’s mountain bike race.

Later it was the chance of the boys time triallists, Stefan du Bod and Ivan Venter and they rode their way to a 1-2 gold/silver with respective times of 26:52 and 27:04.

“It was quite nice because at home our time trial distances are between 30-35km so today’s 20km was much shorter,” Du Bod told Road to Rio 2016.

“I had a nice warm down and then sat down for a bit before the start so my legs were a bit cool before I started but I went out quite hard and then when I got to the second lap I just gave it everything.”

Du Bod went off in the last of four waves and went off second. He caught the rider in front of him but there was still a short wait to confirm the Grade 12 pupil at Stellenbosch’s Paul Roos Gymnasium’s victory. “My school is very supportive about me missing lessons in order to compete for my country which is very nice.

“I’m very proud to have won a gold medal for my country and this is my second big win at junior level after I won the road race at nationals in Durban in February this year.”

There were also other codes in action on Tuesday. Here’s a look at how they fared:

CANOEING
A day after the rowing code left the dam it was the turn of our canoeing squad to strut their stuff.

Jessica Choga reports that in a bizarre turn of events it was South African v South African because only one medal was up for grabs in that particular event. The former beat the latter in a time of 2hr 03min 08sec to go through to the semi-finals.

Then it was Pieter van der Westhuyzen who took on another South Africa in the shape of Brandon Orpwood, and won in 1:46.96 to make the semi-finals on Wednesday.

Said canoe coach Debby Bird: “The guys did very well and looking at the other competitors I feel we are the strongest followed by Tunisia. I think they’ll do well tomorrow at the semi-finals.”

GOLF
This code got underway with the boys and girls 54-hole strokeplay event at the Gaborone Golf Club, a venue that has been hit by both devastating drought and fearsome flooding in recent times.

Our boys were represented by Hennie du Plessis and Kyle McClatchie, both of whom play out of the Serengeti Club in Ekhuruleni.

The girls wearing the green and gold were Eleonora Galletti, see right, from Royal Johannesburg in Gauteng and Shawnelle de Lange from Goldfields, Carletonville.

Round of the day for the SA quartet came from McClatchie who shot a five-under par 66 to lead by three. And Du Plessis, who quit high school to pursue a golfing career, shot 71 for joint fourth.

Of the girls, playing to a par of 72, it was Galletti who fared best with a 79 to put her fifth and De Lange’s 83 puts her sixth.

McClatchie’s round was his joint best after also having shot a 66 at a junior tournament in Ekhuruleni a few years back.

Said manager Helena Buitendag: “The greens were quite grainy and a bit inconsistent, some soft and some hard, so the guys struggled with some of their putts. Wednesday and Thursday will see the final two rounds of strokeplay for the team.”

TENNIS
It was a good day on court at the National Tennis Centre for our code of four players.

There were six matches involving South Africa and only one saw us on the losing side of the net.

Five of the results mean that South Africa are through to the quarter-finals.

Richard Thongoana had a 6-2 5-7-6-2 win over his Ivory Coast opponent and will face Egypt in the quarters.

Sarah Sarjoo, she of the marathon first round clash on Monday, beat her Mauritian opponent 6-0 6-3 and next meets Zimbabwe and our other girl’s player, Janet Koch beat a Botswana rival 6-0 6-1 and will face Tunisia in the quarters.

Said coach Patric Tsunke: “Our boys’ doubles combo of Thongoana and Kris van Wyk took on Kenya and they won 4-6 6-3 and then took the super tiebreak 10-4.”

The mixed doubles saw Koch and Van Wyk join up to beat Botswana 6-0 6-3.

Our only loss saw Van Wyk going out to his Nigerian opponent in the second round.

VOLLEYBALL
Our girls team went down 3-0 to Egypt in their clash which took place a fair way out of the city. South Africa currently lie fifth on the log table.

To view and download high-resolution pictures at the African Youth Games (for free editorial and non-commercial use), go to: www.sascocimages.co.za