Cementing her credentials across a range of distances, Caster Semenya became the third woman to take an 800m/1 500m double at the Commonwealth Games on Friday, while sombre champion Martin Erasmus stunned his opposition to win freestyle wrestling gold on the ninth day of competition on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Semenya coasted home in the two-lap final, setting a Games record of 1:56.68.
The dominant South African secured an international career slam, becoming the first woman since retired Mozambican legend Maria Mutola to win 800m titles at the Olympic Games, World Championships, Commonwealth Games, African Championships and African Games.
“As an athlete you set goals and targets, and you need to take risks if you want to be the best,” Semenya said.
Elsewhere on the track, Stephen Mokoka put up a fight but faded in the closing stages, finishing sixth in the men’s 10 000m race in 27:44.58.
The national men’s 4x100m relay team won their heat in 38.71 and javelin thrower Phil-Mar Janse van Rensburg delivered a 78.00m heave with his first attempt in the qualifying round, as they progressed to Saturday’s finals.
Erasmus, meanwhile, had no trouble against India’s Mausam Khatri, earning a convincing 12-2 victory by technical superiority.
He earned South Africa’s first wrestling title in 60 years at the Commonwealth showpiece.
“He was tough… I think he had a knee injury, but that’s not my problem,” said Erasmus, who admitted he felt more relieved than emotional.
“I’m not going to celebrate. I just can’t wait to get home.”
On the bowls green, Nicolene Neal and Colleen Piketh looked good for gold in the women’s pairs final but let it slip from their grasp against a determined Malaysian team.
Though they led 12-3 after 10 ends, the South Africans were handed a narrow 15-14 defeat.
Receiving significant consolation for the loss, they clinched the silver medal.
In the diving pool, Julia Vincent narrowly missed out on the podium in the women’s 1m springboard final after taking fourth place, less than six points shy of a medal.
Compatriots Micaela Bouter and Nicole Gillis ended 10th and 11th respectively.
Table tennis player Theo Cogill lost his TT6-10 singles semifinal 3-2 against England’s Kim Daybell, and he was set to compete in the bronze playoff on Saturday.
On the hockey pitch, the national women’s team lost 3-1 to Canada in the playoffs, taking sixth position, and the SA men’s side settled for the wooden spoon, finishing 10th after conceding with less than two minutes left in a 3-2 defeat to Wales.
Rhythmic gymnast Grace Legote was seventh in the ball final, and the SA women’s rugby sevens team did not score a point in group stage defeats to Canada and New Zealand.
Heading into Saturday’s penultimate day of competition at the Games, the SA team were lying fifth in the standings with 35 medals including 13 gold, 10 silver and 12 bronze.