Glasgow – With their last touch of the Commonwealth Games last night, the South African swimming team won their 12th medal and Chad le Clos his seventh of a remarkable six days.
The sixth and seventh medals were the hardest for Le Clos, coming at the end of a gala in which he had set a target, reached it and confirmed that he is the best swimmer in the world right now.
The South African 4x100m medley team took bronze, with Le Clos and his close friend Leith Shankland finishing off the good work of Sebastien Rousseau and Cameron van der Burgh. It was Rousseau’s fourth medal of the Games and Van der Burgh’s third. The smiles on the face of all four were tired but happy. They had done their part in the South African medal chase. South Africa had 26 medals as of this morning, seventh on the medal table. Now over to the rest of the team.
Le Clos knows all about winning by small margins. His biggest moment came with a win over Michael Phelps in 0.05secs in London in 2012. His sixth medal here was won by 0.01secs from Australia’s Thomas Fraser-Holmes, as he held on, just, for bronze in the 200m individual medley. Le Clos had, as expected, led in the butterfly and backstroke, but Scot Danie Wallace (silver) and Australian Daniel Tranter took the lead in the last two legs. Rousseau finished eighth.
After 12 medals and five Games, Roland Schoeman ended his Commonwealth Games career with sixth place in the splash and dash of the 50m freestyle last night. His long history with these Games was finished with a final 22.36secs thrash.
Behind him, in seventh, was Bradley Tandy, part of the next generation of South African swimmers.
Schoeman said it was unlikely he would be at the 2018 Games at the Gold Coast, but was hoping for the next Olympics.
“It was disappointing. I would have liked to have ended with a medal,” said Schoeman. “I need to figure things out. I was 22.00 about four or five weeks ago, so would have placed me top three tonight.
“The problem for us is that funding, sponsorship and everything hinges on races like tonight. You’re only as good as your last swim, and for me to get to a fifth Olympics, it is increasingly harder because I didn’t get a medal (in the 50m freestyle).”
The Olympics was a possibility, but Schoeman would be 38 in 2018, and that might be a Games too far. Could he see himself holding on?
“Probably not. This is probably it. It’s been a time of highs and lows. Day two here and coming away with the silver (50m butterfly) and another silver on that relay, sharing the experience with a bunch of youngsters. Melbourne, winning the 400m freestyle relay with Ryk, Lyndon and Gerhard was also special. I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world and seen places, and learn new things. That’s part of the journey.”
Schoeman said he was disappointed not to have been included in the 4x100m medley team that competed in the last race of the meet. He said he had found out yesterday afternoon.
“I think I deserve that. I’ve given up a lot and in my last-ever Commonwealth Games, I think there’s not difference between Leith and I in the 100m freestyle. It feels like World Champs in 2011 when I got left out of that relay team. It would have been nice to have come away with 13 medals and be the all-time record holder. It wasn’t to be.”
South Africa picked on Wales in the sixth day of the Commonwealth Games, as their hockey and netball teams thrashed the men and women from the valleys yesterday. The men’s hockey team, recovering after losing 6-0 to Australia in their previous match, needed a morale booster and found it with a 5-1 hammering of the Welsh. The netball team put their Welsh opponents away 61-41.
Esmari van Reenen looked odds on to win gold in the 50-metre three position rifle competition yesterday, but she struggled with the wind in her weakest of the three positions, standing and slipped to sixth overall. She will leave for home with a silver medal in her possession, though, from the 50m prone rifle, her third Commonwealth Games medal.
At Hampden Park, Andre Olivier qualified easily for tonight’s semi-final of the 800m. While the talk is that this is a gold medal that is David Rudisha’s to win, the race to take silver and bronze behind the Kenyan Olympic champion is very much on. Olivier won his heat in 1:47.93.
Willem Coertzen was forced to withdraw from the decathlon with an ankle injury, while long jumpers Rushwahl Samaai and Zarck Visser made tonight’s final with 8.03m and 7.99m jumps to qualify second and third overall. Wenda Nel was second in her heat and will run in the 400m hurdles semi-final today. Wayde van Niekerk finished second in his 400m semi-final behind Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada, and is the fourth-fastest qualifier for tonight’s final.
Mariske Strauss and Phil Buys finished 10th and 13th respectively in the women’s and men’s mountain bike races yesterday.