Athens A sober mood settled over the SA camp after the jubilant party of a world record Olympic gold medal as the team awaited news of a scan to the troublesome ankle of world high jump champion Jacques Freitag in Athens on Monday.
After flying so high on Sunday night, the Olympic team was brought down to earth with a series of defeats and eliminations, the most noteworthy being women's hockey suffering their second loss of the Games.
Freitag arrived in Athens highly rated alongside women's world high jump champion Hestrie Cloete, but the 2,04m-tall Pretoria athlete was anxiously awaiting scan results after his training shoe tore during a run up at training in the Olympic Village late last week.
The 4x100m freestyle swimming triumph in world record time by Roland Schoeman, Lyndon Ferns, Darian Townsend and Ryk Neethling on Sunday night has put the wind beneath the wings of South African medal contenders.
But for Freitag, Monday night was one of anxiety as chief medical officer Wayne Derman and his medical team assessed the extent of the injury.
Ron Holder, the applied kinesiologist who balanced Freitag's muscles out by inserting special orthotics into his shoes and got him back into competition, was said to be on his way to Athens from London on Monday. "If anybody can sort this problem out, it's Holder," said a team member.
The high-jumper was forced to withdraw from the track and field squad in May after an operation to his ankle, but under Holder he recovered miraculously and was back in contention with a 2,34m jump by early last month.
On Monday the hockey women are struggling to stay afloat in their tournament after following up their 5-1 defeat against Holland on Saturday by going down 3-0 against Australia. This was always going to be a tough call but the pressure is now on the SA women to pull something back against Korea on Wednesday.
The beach volleyball pairing of Colin Pocock and Gershon Rorich lost 2-0 against Argentina's Marinano Baracetti/Martin Conde, who are the 2001 world champions. The South Africans showed some fire but went down 21-13 and 21-15.
"I didn't think we played too badly. The one thing that messed us up was Baracetti's serve which puts you under tremendous pressure. We have one game left and we will go all out," said Gershon. Their final pool match is against Portugal on Wednesday.
In boxing, lightweight Bongani Mahlangu went down 22-14 to Robshan Huseynof of Azerbaijan after winning the second round, drew the third and lost one and four.
In the featherweights, Ludumo Galada took his exit from Olympic action when he was tko'd by Azerbaijan's Shahin Imranov 26 seconds into the third round.
In women's doubles badminton, Michelle Edwards and Chantal Botts suffered heavily against Germans Nicole Grether/Juliane Schenk 15-0, 15-0 in 19 minutes.
On Tuesday the focus falls on Neethling and Schoeman when they return to the Olympic pool with their tails up after their Olympic triumph when both will be going all out to now impact on the 100m individual freestyle.
Neethling's campaign is tough against Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands and American Ian Crocker, while Schoeman has to contend with Aussie Ian Thorpe and Russian Andrey Kapralov.
Terrence Parkin also returns to competition, this time in his more favoured 200m breaststroke in which he won silver in Sydney 2000.
Archer Kirsten Lewis is back in action Tuesday morning against India's Sharma Sumangala. She played above her current ranking by beating 13th ranked Dola Banjeree, and if she wins on Tuesday, she will advance into the top eight.
The men's hockey team will attempt to continue their winning ways when they play India in their second pool match, and Gareth Blankenberg faces another two more races in the laser class sailing on an angry Medetterenean sea that is being whipped by a howling wind through the valley over Athens.
SA's women's beach volleyball players Leigh-Ann Naidoo and Julia Willand have a high noon standoff against top-rated Cuba and they will be hoping for calmer weather, while in judo Henriette Moller opens her campaign in under 63kg judo. - Sapa