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- Olympian Barrow chooses SA over Australia
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More medals roll in for SA from swimming, athletics at Games
- Updated: December 12, 2014
By Mark Etheridge
in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
On a night when the rain by and large stayed away, it rained buckets of medals for Team South Africa at the penultimate day of competition at the African Region 5 Youth Games here on Friday.
Swimming brought in another 15 medals in evening action and this code have now amassed a staggering 42 medals with one day’s action to go.
Out at the White City Stadium on the outskirts of the city, track and field provided another 11 to the medal pot and boosted SA’s medal tally to over the 100 mark.
The swimmers won all nine finals on the night and by the last medal ceremony even the locals were singing along and familiar with the words.
The evening action brought nine golds, four silver and two bronze medals.
Management and coaching staff were pretty confident of gold in pretty much every final, barring the 50-metre freestyle, but Zane Waddell soon put any doubts to rest as he blasted to victory in a time of 23.50sec.
That saw him beating pre-race favourite Chad Idensohn of Zimbabwe (23.96) to the gold medal.
‘Going into this race, we weren’t hopeful of gold at all,’ said coach Theo Verster, ‘but we knew what work we had to do and it all came right on the night.’
As for Waddell, the Bloemfontein teenager was delighted. ‘We emphasised my start in training,’ he told Road to Rio 2016. ‘I was quick out of the blocks which was great, my underwater work was satisfactory but I could probably have done better and then my mid-race I just put my head down and concentrated.’
It was a personal best for the Grey High Grade 11 pupil, improving on his 24.09 previous best.
‘This is my first time in national colours so I’m very proud and the whole Games experience has been great, the village has been OK and we’re building a great team spirit. It sure is an experience and a half.’
What’s next for the tall 16-year-old: ‘I definitely am aiming at progressing through next year’s All Africa Games, then the Commonwealth and finally one day, the Olympics.’
Certainly manager, Bianca Marais is excited at this bunch of swimmers. ‘I’ve been on a lot of these trips and this group has something special about them. They’re very closely knit and work together and I’m excited. We definitely have three swimmers who have the potential to go all the way, in Zane, Martin Binedell and Rita Naude and there may be more.
‘The third day is normally pretty tough in a competition like this but they really dug deep and look at the results. They have had to swim hard twice a day because with a big team like this there’s no chance to rest in the heats.’
There could have been even more medals for the team but Mark Hunter took ill after his first heat on day one of competition and was advised by the medical team to withdraw from competition in the interest of his health.
A measure of the squad’s quality was that seven Games records bit the dust on the evening, and the team’s performance mirrored that of day one, both in terms of medals and Games records.
Apart from Waddell, there were gold medals for: Jessica Whelan (400 free, 4:28.44), Rita Naude (50m backstroke, 29.87), Eben Vorster (200m IM, 2:08.07), Erin Anderson (200m breaststroke, 2:38.21), Binedell 200m backstroke, 2:02.66), Naude (50m butterfly, 28.02), both the boys and girls teams in the 4x100m medley.
On to athletics and there were gold medals for Johan Scholtz in the discus (56.42m), the 4x100m men’s and womens’ quartets (40.66 and 46.89 respectively), Kyle Appel (200m, 21.21), 200m T13, Ashlynne Magwa (24.60), Duwayne Boer, long jump men, 7.28) and Wanzel Breytenbach (shot put, 12.85m).