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SOUTH AFRICAN SPORTS CONFEDERATION AND OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

Hockey boys go down fighting as Games wrap up

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By Mark Etheridge
in Nanjing, China

They were unable to secure a second medal for Team South Africa on the final evening of Youth Olympic Games action on Wednesday night but the boys’ hockey side went down with their heads held high.

They played Spain for the bronze medal and lost 7-4 but take it for granted, they left nothing out on the pitch and it was a gutsy display from the green and gold brigade.

Common consensus has it that despite not being in the final, Spain were the best team of the tournament, having never lost in regulation play and only being beaten on ‘penalties’ by eventual silver medallists Canada.

In their final five-a-side game of the tournament, SA were down 2-0 after the first period and then 3-0 early in the second. Tevin Kok gave SA hope by pulling one back, only for Spain to then go 5-1 up.

Another goal from Kok made the score 2-5 and then captain Nqobile Ntuli made it 3-5 from a free-hit where he then beat two defenders before smashing home high into the net with a reverse-stick shot.

Going into the third and final 12-minute period, Kok was yellow-carded which made SA’s task that much more difficult. It wasn’t long before Spain wrapped things up by going 6-3 but Jacques Bleekers gave SA another straw to clutch at before another yellow card setback finally sunk SA and they conceded a seventh.

Coach Neville Rothman gave credit to his team: ‘I’m very proud of these lads. There’s a lot to come from these guys, there’s something special about this squad.

‘Tonight we played very well but were a little wasteful in possession and in front of goal but Spain are a clinical quality side.’

Skipper Ntuli echoed his coach’s sentiments. ‘We lost tonight but that’s play-offs for you. We pitched tonight and stuck to our game plan. There’s no doubting we gave it 100% effort and I’m proud of these guys, this is the best bunch of players I’ve played with.’

And Ntuli also pleaded for continuity. “I am so hoping that South African hockey can try and carry this team forward. They are very dedicated and I think they can really kick on from here.’

For now though Ntuli heads back to Kearsney College, KwaZulu-Natal to prepare for and wrap up Grade 12 examinations.

Over at the Longjiang Gymnasium, wrestlers Elbert Steyn and Reynhardt Louw wrapped up their classification matches. Limpopo’s Steyn ended up fifth by beating Canadia Alexander Moore 4-0, and Louw went down 4-1 to Russia’s Amirkhan Guvazhokov to end sixth.

That ends Team South Africa’s participation in the 2nd Youth Olympic Games.

Track athlete Gezelle Magerman won South Africa’s only medal when she won gold in the 400m hurdles on Monday evening. Already it must be all systems go for Buenos Aires, Argentina four years down the road.

Picture of Nqobile Ntuli by Wessel Oosthuizen/SASPA. Pictures of Team South Africa’s campaign at the 2014 Youth Olympics are free for downloading on www.sascocimages.co.za.

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