Bittersweet start for Team SA at the Games

2012-07-28 20:19

Two days into the 2012 London Olympics some South African dreams are still in reach, others are dimming and some have faded. Daniel Mothowagae rounds up the results

Banyana Banyana
This paints a sad picture of Banyana Banyana who suffered harsh lessons in just their maiden experience on the Olympic Games stage.

Not that the South Africans were dismal but conceding seven goals in two matches more than pointed to a huge difference between them and their group opponents who are well exposed to the international scene.

After a 4-1 annihilation by Sweden in their opening match midweek, coach Joseph Mkhoza’s side were again at the receiving end against a Canadian side that was not even carried away by their superiority over Banyana in all the departments.

Even Banyana coach Joseph Mkhonza conceded afterwards that “they showed intensity throughout” in a match in which were the scoreline could have ballooned had Canada’s effort in injury time not rebounded off the crossbar.

“We learned serious football lessons in a short space of time in the tournament. We are aware that we are going to face the best team in the world in our last game but we are not giving up.”

As for why he left out the team’s prolific striker Noko Matlou out of the starting line-up, Mkhonza defended her decision that “even star players are left on the bench when they are struggling”.

“Noko was struggling for form even in our first game against Sweden and today she was not still at her best. Our selection as the technical staff is informed by how the players are from training.”

Banyana face world champions Japan at the Milleniun Stadium in Cardiff on Tuesday in an academic game that could catapult Japan
This defeat means Banyana’s road ends here in London with Japan and Sweden the clear favourites to advance to the knockout stage.

At least Banyana, as Mkhonza pointed out, will go into the African Women’s Championships with a better experience than they were against world class opposition at London 2012.

Kathryn Meaklim
The first of her 2012 Olympic dreams was shattered yesterday when she failed to make it past the preliminary rounds in the 400m individual medley. “It was a really bad race and I am not really happy at all, but it happens,” Meaklim said.

The young woman’s chances though are not all used up – tomorrow she will have another chance to go for gold in the heats of the 200m individual medley.

Heerden Herman
Team SA middle distance swimmer Herman failed to make the time in his 400m freestyle heat yesterday, finishing last in a time of 3:57.28.

But all is not lost for the swimmer as he takes to the water again on Friday for his specialist 1500m event.

Riaan Schoeman
Schoeman, who broke silver medalist Terrence Parkin’s South African record set in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, bowed out of the 400m individual medley when he finished sixth in the same heat as his triumphant teammate Chad le Clos.

Schoeman’s failure to advance also means that he is out of the Olympics less than 24 hours after the event began.

Cameron van der Burgh
Famous for being Africa’s first home-trained world record holder, Van der Burgh too holds aloft South Africa’s medal hopes.

He was sixth fastest in the men’s 100m breaststroke qualifiers, with his 59.49sec time seeing him safely into the semifinals last night.

Naydene Smith and Lee-Ann Persse
Rowing pair Smith and Persse finished fourth out of five in the Women’s Pairs second heat. Their time of 7:14:31 earned them ninth place, which means they qualify for the repechage tomorrow.

The top two boats from each heat automatically qualify for the final and the other six boats compete in the repechage, which offers a second chance to qualify for the A final. Unsuccessful boats go into Final B, which determines places from 7 to 12.

Matthew Brittain, Sizwe Ndlovu, John Smith and James Thompson
The rowing lightweight four came second in their heat and go through to the semifinals, which take place on Tuesday at 12.40pm at Eton Dorney.

» At the time of going to press, Chad le Clos had not yet raced in his 400m individual medley final

– additional reporting by Sport24

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