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Sun Apr 20 18:30:06 SAST 2014

SA ladies go for medals on Women's Day

DAVID ISAACSON in London | 08 August, 2012 06:230 Comments
South Africa's Bridgitte Hartley competes in the women's kayak single (K1) 500m semifinal at the Eton Dorney during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 7, 2012
Image by: Darren Whiteside / REUTERS

TEAM SA's fairer sex delivered power performances at the Olympics yesterday as Sunette Viljoen and Bridgitte Hartley proved they would be strong medal contenders tomorrow.

Both flew through the qualifying requirements in their respective disciplines - Viljoen in the javelin and Hartley in her kayak sprint, and now both will be on the prowl for silverware tomorrow.

Hartley is up first in the K1 500m final at Eton Dorney (11.08am South African time), whereas Viljoen will begin competing at the Olympic stadium in London at 10pm.

Spare a thought for Anaso Jobodwana, who gets to race against Usain Bolt in their 200m semifinal tonight (9.18pm).

It's now been five full days since Team SA's last medal - what a spectacular 12 hours South Africa could witness tomorrow on Women's Day!

The only time South Africa has won two Olympic medals on the same day - at least since 1992 - was at Athens 2004 when 800m runner Mbulaeni Mulaudzi and high-jumper Hestrie Cloete both scooped silvers.

Hartley won her semifinal yesterday in 1min 51.286sec, the second-fastest time of the morning.

"I just pushed as hard as I could," she said.

Viljoen, the No1 in the world this year, threw the furthest in her qualification group, an impressive 65.92m on her first attempt, which secured her automatic qualification.

The morning's best throws, however, came in the other pool, where world record-holder Barbora Spotakova nailed 66.19m and veteran German Christina Obergfoll hit 66.14m.

"I'm so happy, so pleased with the throw," beamed Viljoen. "It's something I've dreamed of and have worked so hard for - it is unbelievable. If I end up with a medal, it will be really special for myself and my country."

Of Team SA's men, Andre Olivier failed to qualify for the 800m final after finishing fifth in his semifinal. He was boxed in early on and was unable to make up ground on the race leaders.

But Jobodwana and Lehann Fourie advanced to tonight's semifinals.

Jobodwana finished second in his heat behind Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre.

Fourie clocked a season's best 13.49sec to finish second behind defending champion Dayron Robles of Cuba.

Richard Murray's hopes in the men's triathlon were blown after losing too much ground in the opening 1.5km swim.

After that, he was forced to play catch up. Although he tried hard, he was never going to get to the podium.

He was 33rd out of the water, but after the 43km cycle and 10km run he finished 17th in 1hr 49min 15sec - nearly three minutes behind British winner Alistair Brownlee, whose brother Jonathan bagged a bronze in the same race.

"I realised halfway through the swim I was in big trouble. I at least closed the gap," said Murray.

The South African hockey men's team were 2-0 up against Argentina 25 minutes into the match, but 25 minutes later they were down 2-5 before losing their final Pool A encounter 3-6.

The sailing duo of Asenathi Jim and Roger Hudson finished 25th and 24th in their final two 470 races to end the Games placed 26th of 27 overall.

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