Rowing team bumps SA back up medals table
The lightweight four men’s rowing team secured a surprise gold medal, pushing South Africa back up the table as the country ended the sixth day of the London Olympic Games in tied 10th position on Thursday.
Sizwe Ndlovu, Matthew Brittain, John Smith and James Thompson secured the country’s third gold medal of the Games.
The South Africans started conservatively, going through the 500 metres mark in third place, and dropped back to fourth by the 1 500m mark.
Over the last 500m stretch, however, they fought back and passed hosts Great Britain, Australia and Denmark to clinch gold in six minutes, 02.84 seconds (6:02.84).
Meanwhile, in the swimming pool, Chad le Clos coasted into the men’s 100m butterfly final.
Le Clos, who clinched gold in the 200m butterfly on Tuesday, won the second semi-final over the shorter distance in 51.42 seconds, qualifying second fastest for Friday night’s final.
American Michael Phelps won the first semi-final in 50.86.
The 20-year-old South African had posted the fastest qualifying time (51.54) in the morning heats, after withdrawing from the 200m individual medley final to focus on his specialist stroke.
Suzaan van Biljon faded in the second half of the women’s 200m breaststroke final to finish in seventh position.
Van Biljon went out hard and led the race after the first length, but she fell back in the last 100m, clocking two minutes, 23.72 second (2:23.72).
American Rebecca Soni broke the world record, setting a time of 2:19.59 to secure the gold medal.
Van Biljon had broken Penny Heyns’ 13-year-old South African record in Wednesday’s semi-final, touching the wall in 2:23.21.
Veteran sprinter Roland Schoeman sneaked through to the men’s 50m freestyle final, finishing fourth in the first semi-final in 21.88 seconds to qualify tied seventh fastest.
Schoeman, the bronze medallist in the short sprint at the 2004 Games in Athens, will compete in the final on Friday evening.
Countryman Gideon Louw narrowly missed out, taking fifth place in the second semi-final in 21.92 and falling 0.04 seconds short of a place in the final.
Karin Prinsloo also missed out on a final place, finishing eighth and last in the second semi-final of the women’s 200m backstroke in 2:11.42.
Prinsloo had progressed to the penultimate round by finishing fifth in her heat in the morning session and qualifying 13th fastest.
Earlier, Wendy Trott failed in her bid to qualify for the women’s 800m freestyle final, finishing fourth in her heat in 8:28:98.
Elsewhere, the national women’s hockey team put up a brave fight but went down 2-0 against Germany in their third match of the tournament.
The result left the SA women lying bottom of Group B — the only team without a point — with two games left to play.
South Africa face Australia in their next match on Saturday.
Youngster Alistair Davis missed out on a place in the men’s double trap shooting final, finishing 15th of 23 shooters in the qualifying round as his Olympic campaign came to an end.
The SA sailing duo of Roger Hudson and Asenathi Jim were left trailing in second-last position after the first two races of the men’s 470 event.
They finished 20th in the first race of the competition but struggled home in last place, of 27 boats, in the second race.
The third and fourth 470 races will be held on Friday.