SA stars other athletes will be wary of at the Commonwealth Games

2014-07-23 00:00

Team South Africa have a squad of 155 athletes at the Commonwealth Games starting in Glasgow today, writes DAVID KNOWLES. They compete from athletics to wrestling and the best medal hopes look to be in the pool, on the field and in the athletics arena. At the last games in India, Team SA returned with 33 medals — 12 gold, 11 silver,

10 bronze — to end joint fifth on the table. Here we look at 10 South Africans who have the potential to win medals.

Chad le Clos

Swimming

Chad le Clos will have a huge following and is the man to beat as far as his competitors are concerned. He won gold at the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010 in the 200 m butterfly and 400 m individual medley, plus bronze in the 4 x 200 m and 4 x 100 m freestyle. Le Clos has qualified for the 100 m and 200 m butterfly, 200 m and 400 m individual medley and 200 m backstroke.

Cameron van der Bergh

Swimming

In the 2012 Olympics, Cameron van der Bergh set a new world record in the 100 m breaststroke. He should assert his authority in the water and come away with more gold. Van der Bergh will be watched closely to ensure he does not revert to dolphin kicks to stay ahead. He will be looking to strike gold in the 100 m breaststroke once again. He won gold in 2010 for 50 m and 100 m breaststroke.

Karin Prinsloo

Swimming

Karin Prinsloo developed well in the past year and was also at the 2012 Olympics, where she failed to reach the semis in the 200 m freestyle. She should feel she has a chance against the opposition this time around. Prinsloo won gold in the women’s 200 m freestyle at the Aquatic Super Series in Perth this year. She qualified in the 100 m and 200 m, plus the 100 m and 200 m backstroke.

Andre Olivier

Athletics

Andre Olivier is regarded as a two-lap specialist (800 m) and won bronze at the 2008 World Junior Championships in Poland. Olivier has yet to get gold at a major event, but warmed up well with second at the World Challenge meeting in Madrid last week in a slow tactical race. Olivier was pipped at the post by Kenya’s Job Kinyor in a sprint finish.

Johan Cronje

Athletics

Johan Cronje takes on the 1 500 m as the SA record holder in this distance. He has competed at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and numerous African and World Championships. Cronje’s best recent performance was bronze at the World Championships in Moscow last year. He was disappointing in Monaco last week at the IAAF Diamond League, finishing a poor 12th in his race.

Khotso Mokoena

Athletics

Khotso Mokoena is renowned for his long jump exploits, but he takes on the triple jump this time around. When he gets into the zone and gets it right, he is capable of mixing it with the world’s best. He was SA’s only medal winner at the Bejing Olympics (2008), winning silver in the long jump. Mokoena finished fourth last week in the men’s long jump at the World Challenge in Madrid.

Nolan Hoffman

Cycling

One of South Africa’s top cyclists, Nolan Hoffman has an impressive CV showing his versatility on two wheels. He can produce the goods over long and short distances, and is the current Amashova Cycle Classic champion. He has a total of 15 SA national classic titles. Hoffman’s career highlight must be his silver medal in the 15 km scratch race at the 2012 UCI Track World Champs in Melbourne.

Cecil Afrika

Rugby Sevens

Recognised as one of the world’s great exponents of the game, Cecil Afrika could inspire the SA sevens team to go all the way to gold. Full of running and an exciting playmaker, Afrika can make something out of nothing and is as adept on defence as he is on attack. He never gives up and has been responsible for his team coming from the brink of defeat to snatch victory on many occasions.

Austin Smith

Hockey

Austin Smith leads the SA men’s hockey side, currently ranked 12th in the world. South Africa were third in the four-nation Investec Cup tournament in London recently, beating Scotland twice. The opening game on Friday is against the same opposition and a win would give the team tons of confidence in a tough group. Another player to watch is Lloyd Norris-Jones, who will lead the attack.

Marsha Cox

Hockey

Marsha Cox captains a SA side with a good chance of a podium spot. Ranked 11th in the world, the side are in a favourable group with Canada, India, New Zealand and Trinidad and Tobago. Only New Zealand are ranked higher than SA and Cox’s team have beaten India regularly in the recent past. The team arrive at the games having lost 2-1 to hosts England in the final of the Investec Cup.

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