Cape Town - South Africa’s Bradley Odendaal was among the leading sprinters at Lifesaving’s Sanyo Bussan International Cup in Japan but his individual excellence on sand wasn’t enough to advance South Africa’s overall team medal claim.
South Africa’s queen of the beach sprints and the General Tire-Lifesaving SA National Interprovincial and Interclub Champion Mandi Maritz was also strong in all her races over the two days but collectively South Africa’s men couldn’t match the consistency of their female team-mates.
South Africa, bronze medalists a year ago, had to be content with fourth place after a stunning two-day performance from hosts Japan ‘A’ upstaged the more renowned New Zealand and South African challenge.
Australia won the Sanyo Cup for the 10th successive time, but the biggest surprise was the performance of Japan ‘A’.
New Zealand are the current world champions but they are known for sending a more youthful squad to the Sanyo Cup. They’ll be stronger at the world championships, as will the likes of South Africa.
New Zealand trailed Australia and Japan going into Sunday’s final day and fell just short of overhauling Japan ‘A’.
Australia, having retained just four of the 2016 winning squad of 10, still proved a class above the rest.
Japan’s ‘A’ team produced the most impressive team performance in Japanese history at the Sanyo Cup and signaled the country’s intention to threaten the traditional big three of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa at the world championships.
South Africa were weakened through the withdrawal of more experienced athletes but coach Jay-Cee Thomson said the Sanyo-Cup experience would add to the international depth and quality of South Africa in future events.
Thomson said there were many encouraging individual South African performances but that as a squad Australia was a class apart.
This is reflected in the emphatic nature of their overall win.
South Africa earned big points through the Female’s Rescue Tube race results of quartet Carmel Billson, Sasha-Lee Nordengen Corris, Jodi Cleworth and Mandi Maritz.
Maritz's form in the beach flags and sprints also contributed heavily towards South Africa's final tally, as did Odendaal's performances, but the rest of the squad struggled to match the quality of Australia, Japan ‘A’ and New Zealand.
1. Australia 859
2. Japan ‘A’ 711
3. New Zealand 703
4. South Africa 591
5. USA 558
6. Japan ‘B’ 551
7. Netherlands 472
8. Hong Kong 315
Sasha Lee Nordengen-Corris
Coach: Jay-Cee Thomson
Manager: Tracy Baird