Road cyclist Nic Dlamini had a go on Saturday, but the gutsy climber was ultimately outclassed as the South African team struggled to get their campaign off the ground at the Tokyo Olympics.
Following the national U-23 football team’s 1-0 defeat to Japan on Thursday, the SA squad opened their accounts in three other sports on the official first day of competition at the Games.
Dlamini formed part of a five-man breakaway in the men’s road race in the morning session, with the small group extending their lead to more than 10 minutes before the peloton began to chase them down.
They were caught with a little less than 40km remaining in the 234km contest, and Dlamini faded, eventually failing to reach the finish.
Ryan Gibbons was also unable to complete the race, while Stefan de Bod ended 52nd in a battle won by Richard Carapaz of Ecuador.
Meanwhile, in rowing, the SA men’s four boat – Lawrence Brittain, Kyle Schoonbee, John Smith and Sandro Torrente – took fifth position in their first-round heat, crossing the line well off the pace.
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They will need to finish in the top two in Sunday’s repechage to book a place in the final and keep their medal hopes alive.
The men’s pair of Luc Daffarn and Jake Green also settled for fifth place in their heat.
They will get another chance to fight for a spot in the semifinals when they turn out in Sunday’s repechage.
Elsewhere in the morning session, judoka Geronay Whitebooi was eliminated in the opening round of the women’s 48kg division, falling to defending champion Paula Pareto of Argentina.