Van Reenen provides SA with silver start
Melbourne - After a barren day when Team South Africa won not a single medal, they got their medal chase off to a bright start on Thursday morning, winning a silver and putting a down-payment on another.
Esmari van Reenen took silver in the 50m rifle (three positions), losing out by 0.7 of a point to Anuja Jung. She was the most accurate in the qualifying round and kept the pressure on Jung, ending with 670 points to the Indian's 670.7.
"It was a bit of a surprise. I expected to mostly medal in the prone event," said the 24-year-old Van Reenen, who won silver in the prone competition in Manchester.
"I didn't expect to win a medal at this stage, though I was leading and shot one bad shot, which lost me the competition."
With an all-embracing name like his, Jackson van Tonder Chauke was destined to win a boxing medal for a Rainbow Nation, a promise he confirmed on Thursday morning when he qualified for the flyweight final.
Already guaranteed a bronze medal by dint of making this morning's semifinal, Chauke saw off a tough challenge from Uganda's Martin Mubiru to win 24-22 to go through to the final against England's Don Broadhurst on Saturday night.
"Bronze is an ugly colour, so I didn't want to win bronze," said Chauke, who has won over the Australian crowd by wearing a sunhat with the Australian flag on his walk to the ring.
"The Ugandan was tough. He'd obviously done a lot of planning and fought well. He was more prepared for my style and caught me a few times."
More than a few times, according the judges, and while the South African camp did not wish to comment on the score, those watching felt that Chauke was not awarded points for punches he had landed.
It was a cautious fight, which came to life in the third and fourth rounds. With 45 seconds left in the final round, he snuck through a left hand that saw Mubiru take a standing eight count. With a gap of just two points, Chauke danced away from Mubiru to win the fight.
Gerry Baker is on course to challenge for a medal in the bowls, after he beat Scotland's Darren Burnett 2-1 in the men's singles to move through from the preliminary rounds.
There was a South African name on the front pages of all the newspapers in Melbourne on Thursday morning, but it belonged to the Australian-born John Steffensen.
The Sydney 400m runner, who won gold on Wednesday night, is the son of South Africans who moved to Perth some years ago. He was as close as South Africa got to a medal in athletics on Wednesday.
Nine athletes made finals on day seven and all nine fell well short. The brightest of the bunch, Khotso Mokoena in the long jump, could not better his 8.04m jump and lost bronze by 6cm to Australia's Fabrice Lapierre.
Carelse Ramsay could not clear 2.23m and fell out of contention, as did long jumpers Martin McClintock (ninth) and Yaw Fosu-Amoah (10th), 3 000m steeplechase proponents Noelene Conrad (13th) and Tebogo Mashela (10th), Simone du Toit and Marli Knoetze were sixth and ninth in the shot put, while Paul Gorries ended seventh behind Steffensen in the 400m.
Janice Joseph broke the South African record in the heptathlon, a highlight of sorts for the anoraks among us, but it was only good enough to help her finish fifth overall.