The national sprint contingent showcased their ability once more at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday, with the SA 4x100m relay team storming home to snatch the silver medal on the penultimate day of competition on Australia’s Gold Coast.
With Henricho Bruintjies, Emile Erasmus and Anaso Jobodwana doing enough to keep them in contention, anchor Akani Simbine carried the quartet from fourth place to second on the final leg.
They crossed the line in 38.24 seconds, breaking the SA record of 38.35 which had been registered by Simbine, Bruintjies, Simon Magakwe and Ncinci Titi at the last edition of the Games in Glasgow four years ago, when they finished fourth.
“All that was in my mind was ‘just get in front, get in front, just catch’… so I’m really happy I could push us into the medals and just get that medal for South Africa,” said Simbine, who won the individual 100m title earlier in the week.
Bringing a close to the SA athletics team’s campaign, javelin thrower Phil-Mar Janse van Rensburg finished fourth in the men’s javelin throw final with a best effort of 79.83m.
Meanwhile, cyclist Clint Hendricks timed his sprint well to take third place in the men’s road race.
Hendricks, a former winner of the Cape Town Cycle Tour, was third over the line in a bunch sprint, just off the pace of Australian winner Steele von Hoff and Welsh silver medallist Jonathan Mould.
Elsewhere, table tennis player Theo Cogill fell to Joshua Stacey of Wales in the TT6-10 singles bronze medal playoff.
Though he took the first game, Cogill lost two straight games before winning the fourth to stay in contention for the podium. In the deciding contest, he was handed an 11-8 defeat.
Julia Vincent finished sixth place in the women’s 3m springboard diving final, while shooters Petrus Haasbroek and Jacobus du Toit ended 11th and 20th respectively in the Queen’s prize individual finals, and freestyle wrestler Michael Gaitskill was eliminated in the first round of the men’s 86kg division.
On the rugby pitch, defending champions the Blitzboks kept their medal hopes alive with a cracking start to their sevens campaign.
After romping to dominant wins over Malaysia (43-0) and Papua New Guinea (52-0), they swept Scotland aside with a 26-5 victory, progressing to the semifinals on Sunday where they were set to face Fiji.
The SA women’s rugby sevens team earned their first points of the tournament in their last group match, though they went down 19-10 to Kenya. After finishing bottom of their pool, they were set to compete in the bottom-tier playoffs on Sunday.
South Africa were lying fifth in the standings with 37 medals (13 gold, 11 silver and 13 bronze) heading into the 11th and final day of the multi-sport showpiece, with one more medal chance on offer in the men’s rugby sevens tournament.