City cheers its hometown stars

2018-04-06 16:15
(Left) Maritzburg-raised Gillian Sanders (left) during the running leg of the women’s triathlon at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, on Thursday. (Centre) Elandskop hockey player Tyson Dlungwana (right) with team-mate Owen Mvimbi at the airport in Australia. (Right) Scottsville hockey player Celia Evans on her arrival at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia.

(Left) Maritzburg-raised Gillian Sanders (left) during the running leg of the women’s triathlon at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, on Thursday. (Centre) Elandskop hockey player Tyson Dlungwana (right) with team-mate Owen Mvimbi at the airport in Australia. (Right) Scottsville hockey player Celia Evans on her arrival at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Getty Images/Supplied)

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On your marks, get set, go ... the 2018 Commonwealth Games sprang to life on Thursday and several pumped athletes from Pietermaritzburg and Durban were in the spotlight as part of Team South Africa on the Gold Coast in Australia.

Henri Schoeman from Durban jubilantly set the scene by winning South Africa’s first ever gold medal in triathlon at the Commonwealth Games, while Maritzburg-raised Gillian Sanders was among the others proudly doing duty for the country on day one.

Sanders finished 15th in the women’s triathlon, roughly five weeks after she suffered a fractured rib in a bike accident in the Middle East.

Sanders (née Curr) went to school and began competing in the city before moving to Stellenbosch University and then London. She was six minutes behind the winner, Bermuda’s Flora Duffy.

“Four and a half weeks ago I had a nasty bike crash in Abu Dhabi and fractured my rib. It felt like I’d been shot in the chest. It was a very sore 10 days, but with my amazing support team around me I’m back to full strength and feel so excited and privileged to race,” Sanders posted on Twitter before the event.

After the event, the 36-year-old told the TeamSA website created by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc): “I’m obviously disappointed and really wanted to get at least a top five spot or maybe even a medal.

“After the swim I pushed quite hard on the bike, but when it came down to the run I was in no-man’s land and I had a choice of either smashing it and finishing somewhere like 12th or saving myself for Saturday’s relay and there really wasn’t a choice.”

There were also two hockey players from Maritzburg in action on Thursday.

Celia Evans was part of the SA women’s team who lost their opening game 2-0 to England, while Tyson Dlungwana’s men’s side went down 4-2 to Scotland.

To add to the blow, his mother, Thizani Dlungwana, said the family, from Elandskop, were disappointed at not being able to watch the match.

She said they had assumed that the Games would be available on their DStv Compact package, but discovered, to their dismay, that it was not.

However, she said they would make plans to upgrade to the Premium service to be able to watch the remaining matches.

“I’m on my way to Newcastle at the moment, but my husband and everyone else at home were going to watch him, but we didn’t know that the matches weren’t showing on the DStv Compact,” she said yon Thursday morning.

“But we will sort it out and make sure we don’t miss the remaining games.’’

Dlungwana is a Maritzburg College old boy.

Schoeman’s parents were reported to be at the Games with him because his father, Joe, is part of his coaching staff.

The Durban-based doctor of the new triathlon champ, Kevin Subban, said he wasn’t really surprised by the athlete’s stupendous performance on Thursday.

Subban, who has been Schoeman’s doctor for the past eight years, has been in close contact with the athlete and said all had gone according to plan.

“He has been training hard and I think he deserves what he got today. He has been on the top of his game,” said Subban from the Prime Human Performance Institute.

“All he talked about leading up to the Games was getting a medal there, and he did it. I’m very happy for him and proud of him. Fortunately for him, he had a good run up to the Games with regards to training and making sure that he’s healthy and fit.”

In the swimming pool, Chad le Clos from Durban qualified fastest for the final in the men’s 50m butterfly, but Ladysmith’s Brad Tandy missed out on a spot in the final and Maritzburg swimmer Martin Binedell, also a College old boy, finished only seventh in the first semi-final of the men’s 100m backstroke.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  commonwealth games

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