SA targets medals on Day 1Comment on this story
Glasgow - South Africa will be targeting their first medal in the 20th Commonwealth games in Glasgow, when triathlete Richard Murray competes in the individual triathlon, at Strathclyde Park, on Thursday.
The 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run event is only one of 57
events across nine sports that Team South Africa athletes will compete in on day one.
Hockey, Badminton, and Lawn Bowls, commence the preliminary rounds while there are medal competitions that will be finalised by the end of the day in Judo, rhythmic gymnastics, weightlifting, cycling, swimming and triathlon.
England's Jonathan and Alistair Brownlee, the Olympic gold medalist, sandwich Murray in the starting line up of 47 competitors also featuring South Africans Henri Schoeman and 21-year-old Wian Sullwald.
Schoeman and Sullwald are strong swimmers and can be expected to go out with the lead bunch, but will be hoping also to pull Murray as close to the lead bunch as possible.
“It's a difficult call as to how much they assist,” said Lindsey Parry the coach and manager of the five-triathlete team.
“Staying too far off pace risks us having no one in the lead bunch, but if they go on their own they could leave Richard too far behind to make the jump in the cycle.”
“Its probably more about them not sharing the lead and slowing the race by what they don't do,” continued Parry who believes Murray is capable of beating the Brownlee brothers in the run.
The Englishmen know they have to leave Murray from the gun.
“Murray's a very good runner,” said Jonathan Brownlee.
“He's beaten me twice this year, and was a world duathlon champion as a junior. He's not the best swimmer but he's improved. But if he swims a minute down, which he may well do, you might not see him at the front of the race.”
Murray is equally motivated and focused on claiming South Africa's first medal.
“If I'm off the podium, I'll be disappointed,” said the cape-based triathlete.
“It's a hard course, we are going to have to work hard on the cycle. With so many steep climbs the legs will get a pounding, which will impact on the run. That could work for me.”
Swimming, a major medal earner for South Africa also starts on Thursday, with Myles Brown the first out of the blocks in the 400m freestyle and one of around 10 medal potentials in the pool.
Karin Prinsloo, Roland Schoeman, and Chad le Clos, who South Africa are relying on for medals, will also commence their campaigns and there is an outside chance of a medal in the Women's relays.
“The girls in particular have been swimming faster than expected with slick changeovers in the relay,” said coach Wayne Ridden, who feels nine to ten medals is a fair ask of the team.
“We have the experienced swimmers here, and importantly they will help the youngsters, who really need to gain the experience.”
Ridden's biggest concern was that the focus could be too much on the medals and not the times.
“Its normally better to focus on the time, the medals then come. We mustn't get caught up in the pressure.”
Cameron van der Berg will make his start for two individual breastroke golds and some relay hardware on Friday.
Women's Hockey should have a comfortable ride through their preliminary match against Trinidad and Tobago, as Marsha Cox and her teammates work their way towards a place in the knockout section.
“We should be able to get the points tomorrow (Thursday) against Trinidad, but New Zealand and Canada will be tough matches,” said Cox.
“We can never really be sure what's coming when you play India, so that's going to be a key match. We would hope to make it to at least the semi-finals. That's realistic.”
After months of preparations, the 187 members of the South African team will get down to the business of earning the 43
medals, which Sascoc president Gideon Sam predicted would be required to place fifth on the medal table by the end of the event on August 3.