JOHANNESBURG – The South African team will return from the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires with a few firsts and a handful of medals.
Their campaign was successful, improving their medal tally from the previous Games with three golds, a silver and bronze.
The team won just one medal at the 2014 Games in Nanjing, China, courtesy of Gezelle Magerman’s gold in the 400m hurdles.
While it was nowhere near the 11 medals from the inaugural 2010 Singapore Games, the class of 2018 won the most gold medals.
Triathlete Amber Schlebusch, swimmer Michael Houlie and sprinter Luke Davids all claimed gold, while rising swimming star Dune Coetzee and shot putter Dane Roets won silver and bronze respectively.
Gutsy Durban Girls College pupil Schlebusch laid the foundation when she won South Africa’s first Youth Olympic title in the swim-cycle-run event on the first day of the Games. The 17-year-old produced a stunning run leg, fighting from almost a minute behind for victory.
Then Houlie become the first swimmer of colour to win an individual medal in the pool at a major multi-sport event by bagging 50m breaststroke gold. The Bishops matric learner lowered the SA age-group records in both the 50 and 100m breaststroke at the Games.
Parow High School pupil Luke Davids rounded off SA’s campaign by winning the country’s first gold medal in a sprint event at the Youth Games. He won both stages of the 100 metres, blitzing to victory in his final race in a wind-aided 10.15 seconds after setting up victory in the first stage with a 10.56 - 0.20sec faster than his nearest rival.
Congratulations to the South Africa team wrapping up their #YouthOlympics games in Buenos Aires (photos from @TeamSA18) with medals for Amber Schlebusch, Ruan Lange, Michael Houlie, Luke Davids, Dune Coetzee, Hannah Garton and Dane Roets #YOG2018 pic.twitter.com/AD12HbaqQ3
Earlier, Coetzee became the first SA female to win a swimming medal at the Youth Olympics by winning 200m butterfly silver. She posted a new SA age-group record of two minutes, 11.71 seconds after finishing second to Hungary’s Bianca Berercz (2:10.37).
The final night of athletics action could easily have produced more medals with men's javelin thrower Jano Esterhuizen and men’s one-lap hurdler Lindokuhle Gora going into their respective second stages as resounding medal favourites.
But Gora was disqualified for a lane infringement, while Esterhuizen could not repeat his massive 77.69m first throw and finished eighth.