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SOUTH AFRICAN SPORTS CONFEDERATION AND OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

Flying Fredericks helps SA beat 2010 Games tally

By Mark Etheridge

With three days of competition still to come, Team South Africa have already surpassed their medal haul at the last Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India four years ago.

After Thursday, the medal count stands at 36, three more than the tally in India and with just one gold medal less than in India (11 compared to 12).

The latest gold medal came courtesy of Cornel Fredericks who blasted to the team’s second track and field gold medal of the Commonwealth Games here on Thursday night with a pillar-to-post victory in the 400m hurdles. That went with Paralympian Fanie van der Merwe’s win in the T37 100m earlier in the week.

And the self-effacing Fredericks immediately remembered the words of his late coach Bruce Longden as he took on the muscle-numbing final 100m.

‘Bruce always used to tell me to “stay tall and keep running fast” in the last 100m and that’s what I did,’ he said. ‘Finals are never going to be easy but I had a good lane draw and went in confident as I had worked hard and I told myself that it was my day.

The stadium clock beamed out a winning time of 48.52sec but that was soon rounded down to 48.50sec, just 0.02 outside the season’s best he ran in Paris two weeks ago. Runners-up were Trinidad and Tobago’s Jehue Gordon (48.75) and Bahamian Jeffrey Gibson (48.78).

‘I knew that some of the top hurdlers from the US, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic take it easy this year because it’s often not a competition year for them so I said I’ll take advantage of that fact and here I am now.’

Speaking of his race tactics and Fredericks said he had gone in with a clear idea. ‘In this event you have to start fast because its very difficult to catch your opponents in the last 150m.’

And what does it mean for the Commonwealth champion going forward? ‘Well this win and a time of 48.50 will get me into all the major international meets which is great.

‘I’ve always wanted to be the world’s best 400m hurdler one day and don’t want to be remembered as just another 400m hurdler.’

Well, 48.50 seconds of track-scorching action will mean that will never be the case when one mentions the name Cornel ‘Conna’ Fredericks going forward.

Earlier, it was 1-2-3 (gold, silver and bronze) for the African continent in the men’s 800m final.

SA’s Andre Olivier grabbed bronze in the two-lap final with a barnstorming run down the final straight.

After a slow first lap of 52.71sec, the field dispersed coming around the final bend as Olivier swung out into the third lane to get a clear run for home.

Olympic champion David Rudisha had run for home from 100m out but Olivier’s training partner, Nijel Amos of Botswana hauled him in like he was a giant reeling in a small fish and blasted past to win in 1min 45.18sec.

Just behind those two and Olivier hauled in Australian Jeff Risely and Kenyan Ferguson Rotich in the dying stages to seal bronze in 1:46.03.

‘I saw Nijel moving out so also decided to move out because coach Jean Verster wouldn’t be happy if both his athletes were involved in a collision,’ laughed Olivier.

‘I could see David and Nijel fighting it out for gold up ahead so for the last 50m I just pretty much closed my eyes and hoped for bronze.’

Asked what the medal meant to him, Olivier said: ‘Since December we have both been training for Commonwealth Games medals and now that dream has come true.

‘David is just so quick, I know … I experience it every day in training.’

The evening didn’t exactly start off with a bang for Team South Africa as only Akani Simbine progressed to the 200m final.

In the three heats Ncincilili Titi ended fifth in the first heat but was then disqualified for running outside his lane.

Then Wayde van Niekerk, silver medallist in the men’s 400m the day before had struggled through to fifth spot in the second heat with a 20.69. To be fair though, he had done his stuff for the team the previous day.

Simbine, while not setting the world alight, had secured second in the final heat of the event with a 20.53 finish.

Later in the final he was certainly not disgraced as he raced to fifth spot in a personal best 20.37 as Jamaica’s Rasheed Dwyer won in 20.14.

But the surprise of the night came out on the rain-sodden inner field as Victor Hogan had two no-throws in the discus final, followed by a sub-standard 56.42m third effort and didn’t make the halfway mark of the final.

There was little (make that no) comment from the big guy as he slowly hulked back to the change-room to reflect on what might have been, after qualifying with a 64.16 the previous day (which would have been good for gold on the night). His best mark in the final was almost 8m shorter than his qualifier.

It was another good day in the competition arena for Team South Africa as they picked up three other medals as well – gold in the para-bowls, a bronze in the women’s trips and another bronze in the wrestling, courtesy of Armando Hietbrink.

Pictures: Wessel Oosthuizen. For free pictures of all Team SA’s activities at these Commonwealth Games go to www.sascocimages.co.za.

1 comments
Felicity Nicholls-Andre
Felicity Nicholls-Andre

Amazing. Congratulations Cornel and all the participants of our South African Team. Keep up the good work and bring back those medals. Lots of love.