SA to have a gymnastics team at the Olympics

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Gymnast sisters Naveen and Zelme Daries.
Gymnast sisters Naveen and Zelme Daries.

South Africa is going to have women’s gymnastics representatives at the forthcoming Olympics for the first time since 2004, and the SA men’s and women’s hockey teams have also been confirmed for Tokyo.

This follows a remarkable moment for the country at the 15th Individual African Gymnastics Championships in Egypt on Wednesday night, according to Gymnastics South Africa.

Naveen Daries from Gauteng qualified from that event, after compatriot Caitlin Rooskrantz had qualified from another competition previously.

Naveen and her sister Zelme Daries were in Egypt contesting a berth at the Olympic Games along with teammate Mammule Rankoe.

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The three girls were accompanied by Rooskrantz who supported them in their quest to qualify and get some much-needed international participation experience in the run up to the Olympic Games.

They competed on all four apparatus against strong competitors from Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria and Cameroon in the pursuit of the two berths (only one per country) at the Tokyo Olympics. Following a strongly-contested battle, Naveen Daries and Zeina Sharaf from Egypt walked away with the coveted berths available at the event.

Hockey player Lisa-Marie Deetlefs in action.
Lisa-Marie Deetlefs in action against England at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

SA men’s and women’s hockey teams

Meanwhile, the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) on Thursday announced the SA men’s and women’s hockey teams that will feature in Tokyo in July and August.

The women’s team features Lisa-Marie Deetlefs, who will be going to her third Olympic Games and is the only existing Olympian in the squad which features three uncapped players and four centurions, including Quanita Bobbs, Lilian du Plessis and Celia Seerane.

They will be captained by Erin Christie, supported by Phumelela Mbande. The SA women are in Group A of the tournament and start their campaign on July 24 against Ireland.

Their second game will take place two days later against Great Britain, with Netherlands awaiting 48 hours after that. It’s then a quick turnaround between Match 4 against Germany on July 30 and Match 5 against India just 24 hours later.

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The SA men’s squad features five Olympians. Rassie Pieterse, Tim Drummond, Taine Paton and Clinton Panther will add a second games to their CVs having appeared in London in 2012, while Austin Smith also appeared in Beijing in 2008.

Eighteen-year-old Mustapha Cassiem and 21-year-old Sam Mvimbi will be playing in their first major tournament, while every other player has featured in one major.

Tim Drummond will continue to lead the team as captain.

The men are in Group B. They will open their adventure against Great Britain on July 24.

Their other games will be against the Netherlands, world No 1 Belgium, Germany and Canada — a taller order for Drummond’s men.

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