South Africa’s Lawrence Brittain, Kyle Schoonbee, John Smith and Sandro Torrente haven’t been at their best at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Picture: Leah Millis/Reuters
South Africa’s Lawrence Brittain, Kyle Schoonbee, John Smith and Sandro Torrente haven’t been at their best at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Picture: Leah Millis/Reuters

No ‘Oarsome Foursome’ this time for Team South Africa in Olympics rowing

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Jul 25, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - The South African men’s rowing team were unable to emulate their predecessors as both the men’s pair and men’s four squads were knocked out of the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday.

Even as far back as the 2004 Athens Olympics, South Africa grabbed a bronze medal in the men’s pair through Donovan Cech and Ramon di Clemente.

Then in the 2012 London Games, history was made as the men’s four team of James Thompson, John Smith, Matthew Brittain and Sizwe Ndlovu – dubbed the ‘Oarsome Foursome’ – clamed the gold medal.

Four years later in Rio, Matthew Brittain’s brother Lawrence partnered with Shaun Keeling to clinch a silver medal in the men’s pair.

So, going into the Tokyo Games, there were high hopes for coach Roger Barrow and his team, but it was not to be.

Lawrence Brittain, Kyle Schoonbee, John Smith and Sandro Torrente got a second chance to qualify for the final in the men’s four through the repechage round on Sunday, having failed to do so in the heat on Saturday.

They needed to finish in the top two against Canada, Romania, Poland, Switzerland and the Netherlands to advance to Wednesday’s final.

But from the outset, they were in last place, trailing by about four seconds after the first 500m, to nearly six seconds at the 1 000m mark. They finished sixth and last in 6 minutes, 30.34 seconds (6:30.34), which was 20.62 seconds behind winners Romania (6:09.72).

The Netherlands claimed second in 6:11.22 to go through to the final, while South Africa will complete their campaign in the B final on Wednesday.

In the men’s pair repechage race, Luc Daffarn and Jake Green also had a forgettable day at the Sea Forest Waterway, finishing fourth and last in 6:57.01 to be eliminated from the competition.

In the women’s cycling road race on Sunday, South Africa’s Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio produced a superb performance to finish 13th, in a time of three hours, 54 minutes and 31 seconds (3:54:31) after a sprint for fifth position in a group of 11 riders.

She wasn’t too far behind winner Anna Kiesenhofer of Austria, who claimed gold in 3:52:45. The Netherlands’ Annemiek van Vleuten took the silver in 3:54:00, with Elisa Longo Borghini grabbing the bronze in 3:54:14.

South Africa’s second rider, Carla Oberholzer, was unable to finish.

@ashfakmohamed

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