JOHANNESBURG – The South African team has reason to be satisfied with their performance in the first week at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, having won three medals.
The two gold and a silver are already an improvement on their performance from the 2014 Nanjing Games, where they could only manage one podium place.
They got their campaign off to an emphatic start, with Amber Schlebusch winning the country’s first gold medal in the triathlon.
On Saturday, flag-bearer Michael Houlie become the first person of colour to win an individual medal in the pool at a major multi-sport event after bagging the 50m breaststroke gold medal.
Schlebusch turned in a gutsy performance coming from behind in the swim-cycle-run event to claim the victory.
The 17-year-old from Durban produced the fastest running leg, crossing the line in a time of 58 minutes 47 seconds which ultimately won her the title.
“I’m in this sort of disbelief right now; it feels amazing and I really can’t believe it,” Schlebusch said.
“Now I can say, ‘I’m the Youth Olympic champion’. It’s a pretty good title to have, so I’m really stoked.
“It was a bad swim, but then I caught up on the run. I’m really happy to end up feeling so strong.”
Houlie brushed off the disappointment from Tuesday, where he missed out on a medal in the 100m breaststroke final after taking the race out too fast, only to finish in fifth place.
More adept over the sprint distance, Houlie smashed into the wall in his favoured 50m breaststroke event in a time of 27.51 seconds for the title.
He denied China’s Jiajun Sun the 50-100m breaststroke double, touching ahead of him.
Sun posted a time of 27.85 for second, with Canada’s Alexander Milanovich taking bronze in 27.87.
Duné Coetzee became the first South African female to medal in the pool at the Youth Games, winning silver in the 200m butterfly.
She posted a new South African age-group record, clocking 2:11.71.
South Africa's Michael Houlie swims 27.51 to take gold in the men's 50m breaststroke at @youtholympics to give Africa it's only title in the pool in #BuenosAires2018 . Houlie is only the 2nd South African swimmer to win gold at the Youth Olympic Games after Chad le Clos in 2010! pic.twitter.com/1oBaD3A6Ps
“It has been one of my lifelong dreams to become a Youth Olympic champion, so definitely dreamt about this moment,” Coetzee said.
“I actually only remember the moments after the race, and when I received my medal and seeing my parents. Everything was amazing, and I can’t actually explain the feeling.”