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Games gold for bowls, judo – silver for triathletes

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By Mark Etheridge
in Glasgow

Judoka Zack Piontek grabbed Team South Africa’s second gold medal of the Commonwealth Games here on Saturday.

After Siyabulela Mabulu and Jacques van Zyl had won bronze on the first two days of competition, Piontek struck gold in the last session of competition at the SECC venue.

Fighting in the -90kg division, he beat local lad Matthew Purssey in his four-minute encounter. After Purssey had been penalised with a shido, so was Piontek.

The Scot then picked up a second penalty before Piontek managed to score a yuko, the smallest scoring point in the world of judo.

Piontek said he felt confident from the opening gambit. ‘The moment I touched grips I knew I had a great chance. In judo the guy who has the strongest grip wins 95% of the bouts.

‘So that gave me confidence right away. At one point I got tired but I told myself that there was no way in hell that I was going to lose that bout. They would have had to carry me off the mat … I knew I had millions and millions of people back home to make happy.

‘This has got to be my biggest win and importantly it will also help with sponsorship going forward, said the 23-year-old B Comm. Business Management student.

Piontek was also quick to pay tribute to his medical team. ‘I was tired after my semi-final win and my calf was niggling me. But when I got back to the athletes’ village, I had a shower a rest and team physio Avilarsh Lukhan worked on my calf and I was good to go for gold tonight!’

There was more judo joy for Team SA as +100kg contender Tobie Snyman won the code’s second medal of the night in the competition’s final event.

Snyman took on Scot powerhouse Christopher Sherrington and lost on ippon in the dying seconds of the fight but will take valuable experience out of the bout.

‘Wow, but he is a strong guy,’ was the immediate impression from Snyman, no shrinking lily himself.

‘He overpowers you and is definitely the strongest guy I’ve fought at this competition. But it was a good learning curve, I’m only 23 and he’s got a good couple of years on me because he’s closer to 30.’

What’s next for the third year engineering student at Tukkies? ‘Now it’s back to the books. It’s my third year and I’ve failed a few subjects so I have to play catch up.’

By winning yet another medal for Team SA he had already done his bit in helping his country play catch-up on the medals table.

Earlier in the day, Team South Africa’s para-bowls pair nabbed the country’s first gold medal at the Games.

The visually impaired combination of Gyndolene ‘Gwyn’ Nel and Herman Scholtz (their directors were Annetjie van Rooyen and Geoff Newcombe) downed Scotland 14-10 after 15 ends of high action.

Said para-bowls manager Brian Sneag: ‘It was a very, very tight game at Kelvingrove.

‘There was huge support for Scotland as the home team but having said that they were also very unbiased in their support.

‘With two ends to go it was 10-10 and then we picked up a three and then another one on the last end to give us the title.’

Both the team’s visually impaired bowlers suffer from macular degeneration, in Nel’s case it started when she was only 11-years-old in Port Elizabeth. Nel is already a Paralympian, having been part of Team South Africa at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, US.

The bowls gold came soon after the triathlon quartet of Richard Murray, Henri Schoeman, Kate Roberts and Gill Sanders had raced their way to silver in the mixed team relay out at Strathclyde Country Park.

The four multi-talented athletes ended up 49sec down on winners England (1hr 13min 24sec), who featured both individual men’s and women’s gold medallists in their squad, and a second ahead of Australia.

Bronze medallist in the individual category, Murray brought the team home after the quartet had each swam 400m, biked 6km and run 1.6km.

‘Yeeeeaaaaaahh!! Perfect race executed to walk away with the silver medal! What a TEAM,’ was an elated Schoeman’s initial reaction after the silver success.

Coach Lindsey Parry is a man who has fought long and hard to ensure the selection of his triathletes for this event and the last three days’ success will see him leaving the Games on Sunday a happy man… with a happy team behind him!

Meanwhile, the good news for the SA women’s hockey team is that midfielder Celia Evans has been given the all-clear after a nasty smack in the face during the team’s 2-0 win against Canada on Friday night.

A second half brace of goals by Dirkie Chamberlain was enough to put the SA girls through but for a moment near the end it was Evans who may have needed the braces!

Explained manager Sheldon Rostron: ‘A ball flicked up off a stick at close range near the end of the game and hit her on the top lip. There was quite a lot of blood and she needed stitches both internally and externally.

‘But the good news is that a scan shows no severe injuries and she’ll be good to go.’

The girls now have a plus-18 goal difference after also beating Trinidad and Tobago in their first game (16-0).

Next up are New Zealand on Monday evening.

‘We’ve given everyone a run now,’ said Rostron ‘and in our next game we’ll be more specialised because New Zealand are ranked third or fourth compared to our 11th so that will be our first real test.’

The SA ladies’ final pool game will be against India on Tuesday. The top two teams in each pool go through automatically to the semi-finals.


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