Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
20 Aug 2019
4:24 pm

Weakened SA team still banking on swimmers and athletes

Wesley Botton

They're already lagging behind on the medals table at the Africa Games.

Brad Tandy. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

After getting off to a slow start, the South African team will be looking to chase down the early contenders in the medals table when the swimming gala gets under way at the African Games in Rabat on Wednesday.

Two judokas, Michaela Whitebooi (Under-48kg) and Unelle Snyman (U-78kg), were the nation’s only medallists over the first few days of competition, with some codes having started last week ahead of the official opening ceremony which was held on Monday.

Following Tuesday morning’s session on the fifth day of competition, the SA team were lying eighth in the table with two silvers, while title holders Egypt were leading the charge at the top of the standings with a total of eight medals (including four gold).

The nation’s top swimmers, including Chad le Clos, Zane Waddell and Tatjana Schoenmaker, who earned medals at the Fina World Championships in Gwangju last month, were all missing from the SA squad at the continental spectacle.

Despite their absence, however, the 22-member swimming team were expected to dominate the four-day competition in the pool, with the squad featuring the likes of Short Course World Championships medallist Brad Tandy, 19-year-old Youth Olympic champion Michael Houlie and Commonwealth Games medallist Ryan Coetzee.

The SA track and field team was also missing most of its global stars, including world champions Wayde van Niekerk, who had not yet made his top-flight return from a knee injury, Caster Semenya, who was fighting a battle against gender rules off the track, and long jump ace Luvo Manyonga.

The squad, however, was set to be bolstered in next week’s track and field competition by experienced javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen, an Olympic medallist, as well as world junior champions Soks Zazini, Zeney van der Walt and Kayle Blignaut.

South Africa finished third in the medals table at the 2015 African Games in Brazzaville, with the squad securing a total of 119 podium places (41 gold, 41 silver and 37 bronze), which was the country’s lowest ever medal count at the multi-sport showpiece.

The 12th edition of the Games were set to come to a close in the Moroccan capital on August 31.

For more sport your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.