SA end Games on positive note

2006-03-26 15:48
Melbourne - David George ended South Africa's challenge on a positive note when he finished second in the 166km men's road cycling race, on the final day of the 18th Commonwealth Games here on Sunday.

When hockey vice-captain Marsha Marescia carried the SA flag into the Melbourne Cricket Ground at the closing ceremony on Sunday night, Team SA had much to celebrate.

George's medal saw South Africa end the campaign with 38 medals (12 gold, 13 silver and 13 bronze) - three golds more than were won at the previous games in Manchester.

South Africa finished in fifth place on the medals table - an improvement of one position compared to their ranking four years back.

In the cycling event Australian Mathew Hayman made a bold breakaway attempt on the final lap of the 15 lap course and managed to hold his lead to finish four seconds ahead of George, with Hayman's teammate, Alan Davis, finishing third.

George and teammates - in the experienced highly-rated sprinter Robert Hunter, Jock Green, Jeremy Maartens and Rupert Rheeder and guided by the management skills of the wily, Johannesburg-based Tony Harding - had clearly done their homework in working out the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition.

Maartens, Hunter, George and Cox in particular, pushed the pace at the right time to ensure that they were part of break away efforts. But while Australia will be delighted in claiming the gold and bronze medals, George's silver medal achievement will be a major source of motivation for SA cyclists as the build up towards the 2008 Olympics in Beijing gains momentum.

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