Glasgow - Roland Schoeman was called the ‘Showman’ on Friday night as he led the South African swimming squad’s charge of medals in the Tollcross Swimming Centre at the Commonwealth Games with silver in the 50-metres butterfly.
Just behind him, with a bronze to add to the country’s tally, was Chad le Clos, the man who stole the show in Delhi four years ago, and in London back in 2012.
No sooner had the pair left the water than Sebastien Rousseau continued the run, adding a bronze medal in the 4x100m individual medley, having led the race until the final lap of the freestyle.
Schoeman and Le Clos pulled off a South African double act behind England’s Benjamin Proud, who won in a new Games record of 22.93, beating Schoeman’s record of 23.14, set in Melbourne eight years ago.
The betting had been for a South African second and third, with the bookies offering 5/6 on Proud, 12/10 on Schoeman and 6.5/1 on Le Clos as an outside bet. Le Clos was a little disappointed with his time of 23.36 and the bronze as it meant the chance to become the first athlete to win the triple of 50m, 100m and 200m at the Games was gone.
Jacques van Zyl won South Africa’s third medal of the Games earlier in the evening with bronze in the 73kg, the second from the judo squad. Van Zyl beat Eoin Fleming of Northern Ireland in the 73kg category, the second medal for South Africa from the judo squad. Le Clos is hoping to add to that total with another six medals, while Schoeman believes he can add a haul of 11 medals from five Commonwealth Games, the most by a South African.
“I don’t see each medal as just another medal, but as part of the larger journey I have been on and am on,” said Schoeman, who at 34 has a few more wrinkles but is in the same shape.
“I still think I could swim a 22.8 or 22.7 (in the 50m butterfly). I feel the same as when I started.”
Cameron van der Burgh, who had sported a full beard in the morning, had left a little moustache under his nose for his 100m breaststroke semi-final on Friday night, which, he joked, had shaved a second from his time he recorded in the morning heats. He finished second in his semifinal behind Ross Murdoch, the Scot swimming a 59.72. The South African took longer strokes near the end of his second lap for a 59.91, easily qualifying for tonight’s final. Adam Peaty, the Englishman, broke the Games record in the other semifinal with a 59.16.
“It’s all about qualifying for the final,” said Van der Burgh, who is the Games defending champion from Delhi. “You don’t want to show all your cards too early. It’s going to be a great final. All finals are tough, but let’s see what happens.”
The men’s hockey team dominated the second half to overcome a spirited fight by hosts Scotland, to win their first match of the Games 2-0. Goals from Andre Cronje, who converted a penalty flick, and Ignatius Malgraff, gave South Africa the points on a hot day in the midday heat at the Glasgow Green.
Temperatures have soared to 26 deg C here, prompting every second question to be about the heat. South Africa were, unsurprisingly, none too bothered by it.
They kept their cool after Scotland had scored first, but had it overturned on review.
“Scotland played exceptionally well,” said South African captain Austin Smith.
“They attacked well, defended well. It was a big relief after that first goal was disallowed. We didn’t change too much for the second half. We just had someone pushing it in (to the D), really. We had chances in the first half.”
Boxer Tulani Mbenge had little trouble in beating Samoa’s Henry Tyrell in his first match of the men’s welterweight category yesterday afternoon. All three judges awarded the fight his way, scoring it 30-27, 20-26, 30-27. He will take on Eon Bancroft of Guyana on Monday afternoon in the next round.
The netball team finally found their way against Trinidad & Tobago yesterday, their first match of the Games, beating them 56-40, the second time in two days a South African outfit had a winning margin of 16 against the islanders after the hockey women beat their counterparts 16-0 on Thursday.
- Saturday Star