More joy for Team SA

2014-08-04 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (28) ensured that Team South Africa would go home with 40 2014 Commonwealth Games medals after she finished third in the women’s cycling road race in Glasgow yesterday.

It was a result that capped off a largely successful two weeks for South Africa’s group of athletes, who bagged seven more podiums than they did in Delhi four years ago.

SA also surpass the 12 gold medals they won in 2010, leaving Glasgow with 13 this time around.

Moolman-Pasio, who represented SA at the London Olympics in 2012, relied on a photo-finish to determine that she had crossed the line ahead of Australia’s Tiffany Cromwell some 77 seconds behind race winner Lizzie Armistead.

It capped off an inspiring weekend for Team SA. On Saturday night in what was the final evening of track and field, 2008 silver medallist Khotso Mokoena — a long jumper that year — won gold in the men’s triple jump.

Mokoena has only recently turned his attention back to triple jump after seven years of focusing on long jump, but he earned his stripes as a master of both disciplines with a winning leap of 17,2 metres on his second attempt — a new season’s best for the 29-year-old and just 0,05 m off the SA record that he still holds from 2005.

Mokoena opted not jump on his fourth and fifth attempts.

“Thanks to my coach @emriefo [Emmarie Fouche] for showing me strength and making me believe again,” Mokoena posted on his Twitter account yesterday. “I thought I had lost it, thank you coach.”

Directing his words to the support he had received from South Africans in Glasgow and back home, Mokoena was equally grateful.

“Thank you all for the great support shown,” he wrote. “I’m a South African for life, better yet, I’m from Ratanda. I never forget where I came from.”

But while there was reason to celebrate over the weekend, it was not without its share of agony. None would have been more distraught than Johan Cronjé, who missed out on a bronze medal by a whisker when he ran out of steam down the home straight of the 1 500 m men’s final to finish fourth.

“My worst nightmare,” said a gutted Cronjé after the race. “I was saying to my coach and my family that I was stressing that I came fourth — and now it has happened.

“I don’t know if I used too much energy in the bumping on the first two laps; then I had to fight for position.

“When I came off the bend I thought I could win the race. I don’t know what happened, perhaps it was too big for me.”

SA’s women’s hockey team also looked set to challenge for a bronze medal in their play-off match against New Zealand on Saturday, but after fighting back twice from a goal down, Marsha Cox’s charges fell to pieces in the final quarter to go down 5-2.

Meanwhile, Tulani Mbenge took home a bronze for SA in the men’s welterweight.

SA’s men’s hockey side capped off an up-and-down Games with a 7-3 win over Canada to be placed fifth overall.

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