Paddlers extend SA’s happy day

2008-08-18 00:00

While Khotso Mokoena was securing Team SA’s first medal in the long jump, there was plenty of action in the rowing, athletics and hockey too.

LJ Van Zyl made the 400 m hurdle final, finishing fifth behind an American clean sweep. “We are not finished, we have a good (4x400 relay) team for Friday — let’s wait and see,” he said.

Said American Angelo Taylor before the 400 m hurdle final: “We’re going for one, two, three. I share (an apartment) with Bershawn and I’ve seen he’s got his game face on. I’m ready, so I know it’s on.”

It was a script that unfolded exactly as written, and one that left Van Zyl disappointed, but not out.

“I went out fast. From the sixth hurdle … I tried to go with them, but there was nothing. I tried again off the eighth, but there was nothing I could do to close the gap. I’m definitely disappointed. My performance was just not good enough … It’s my first Olympics so I can go on. I want to do it again … for as long as I can.”

As he predicted, Taylor took the gold in 47,25, with Kerron Clement and Bershawn Jackson claiming second and third in 47,98 and 48,06 respectively.

Ramolefi folds in steeplechase

Ruben Ramolefi decisively won his heat on Sunday and got within 0,86 seconds of Whaddon Niewoudt’s 16- year-old 3000 m steeplechase South African record.

He said yesterday, “I’m a bit disappointed, but grateful at the same time because I came here, I ran a PB and I ran in the final. What I learnt is that when you go through, you’ve got to have a plan and you’ve got to be decisive about it.

“Tonight I had double thoughts of what I wanted to do. I lost contact and then I never came back.”

In the morning session, Thuso Mpuang failed to make it through his first-round heat in the 200 m, finishing sixth in 20,87 in a heat won by Zimbabwe’s Brian Dzingai in 20,25. The Zimbabwean went on to win his second-round heat, recording the fastest time of 20,23. Usain Bolt commenced his attack on the sprint double by cruising over the final 70 metres to a 20,29-second finish.

KZN K4 women in the final

SA’s K4 canoeists — Michele Eray, Nicola Mocke and KZN’s Jennifer Hodson and Carol Joyce — started to realise their true potential when they beat the Italian crew over 500 m.

The German and Chinese led, leaving the battle for the last qualifying spot to be fought out between Italy and South Africa, who were 0,2 seconds behind after 250 m.

“A determined final effort gave them the edge ahead of the Italians, and an automatic place in Friday’s final.

Jenny Hodson will be particularly pleased as she gets a bye in the semi-finals, and is allowed more rest for the K1, where she is considered a dark horse.

“We worked so hard in the build-up,” she said. “We never eased up through the World Cup and so we just missed the final.

“Now we’ve beaten the Italians for the first time; we can take that step up and race even better in the final.”

Michele Eray will double up doing the K2 race with Bridgette Hartley. She said: “We worked so hard on our starts — we normally start fast and drop off at the end, but this time we came through at the end. It feels like it’s the first time we’ve rested for a race in four years.”

SA kayakers qualify

Earlier, Shaun Rubenstein competed in the single kayak 1000 m race, taking fifth behind Britain’s world champion, Tim Brabants.

Progression from the heat only gives a bye to the final for the winner, with the next six moving into the semi-finals.

Rubenstein was able to maintain a less pressured pace to finish in three minutes 36,134 seconds and the comfort of a mid-pack qualifier for tomorrow’s semi-finals just behind Portugal’s Emanuel Silva.

Rubenstein, who is ranked in the top 10, should make Friday’s final — with an outside chance of a medal, depending on the final line-up.

Said Benoni-based Calvin Mokoto: “This is a very very huge thing for me — I only started paddling in 2005 and now I’m here at the Olympics.

“When I’m asked, ‘How old are you?’, I reply 19. Their eyes just come way out — people just say you still have a long way you can go!”

Mokoto was in last place throughout the 1000 m canoe race, which was won by Spain’s David Cal, but with only seven boats in the heat, he automatically qualifies for the semi-finals.

“I never ever thought I would be here. This is just so big for me,” the youngster added.

The women’s hockey team lost their final pool match to Korea 2-5, but saved some pride by scoring their first goals of the tournament.

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