Saturday Star - - SPORT -­il­

OCKERT DE VIL­LIERS THERE are still a few more big events left on the cal­en­dar but it is safe to de­clare 2018 the “Year of the Woman” in South African sport.

The in­domitable Caster Se­menya leads an all-star cast, pro­duc­ing world-class per­for­mances and strik­ing a blow for fe­male sport in the coun­try.

Her achieve­ments in 2018 are well doc­u­mented but it is worth look­ing back at some of her feats.

In 2018 she be­came the 8001500m dou­ble Com­mon­wealth Games cham­pion, and broke four na­tional records in­clud­ing Zola Budd’s 34-year-old South African mark in the three-and-three-quar­ter lap event. She is un­doubt­edly South Africa’s great­est fe­male track and field star and one of the best of the best in any sport­ing code in this coun­try.

But Se­menya was not the only fe­male that flew the coun­try’s flag with aplomb. There were a host of fan­tas­tic per­for­mances on the global stage, which took some of the limelight away from their male coun­ter­parts.

Rikenette Steenkamp and Carina Horn joined Se­menya in her as­sault on long-stand­ing na­tional records.

In the 100m at the Doha Diamond League, Horn be­came South Africa’s first woman to dip be­low 11 sec­onds, less than two months af­ter she broke Evette de Klerk’s 28-year-old record.

Steenkamp, in turn, shaved 0.03sec off the pre­vi­ous South African 100m hur­dles record Corien Botha set in 1998. Add to that the ju­nior and youth na­tional 400m hur­dles records Zeney van der Walt and Gontse Mo­rake broke. Mo­rake also set a new youth triple jump record this sea­son.

Stel­lar fe­male per­for­mances in 2018 were not lim­ited to track and field ath­letes, how­ever, but in swimming, cy­cling, weightlift­ing and triathlon as well.

Ris­ing star Tat­jana Schoen­maker re­versed a wor­ry­ing de­cline of South African fe­male swimming.

SA’S women failed to qual­ify for the 2015 World Long-course Cham­pi­onships and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, high­light­ing a wor­ry­ing a trend. Schoen­maker not only qual­i­fied for last year’s World Cham­pi­onships, but in the Word Stu­dent Games won a sil­ver medal.

She made her break­through ear­lier this year, win­ning the 100-200m breast­stroke dou­ble at the Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth Games in April. At the same Games weightlifter Mona Pre­to­rius, javelin throw queen Sunette Viljoen and one-lap hur­dler Wenda Nel all took bronze.

Ear­lier this year Ash­leigh Mool­man-pa­sio made his­tory by fin­ish­ing sec­ond at the Giro Rosa in Italy which is the only Grand Tour in women’s cy­cling and the most pres­ti­gious on the cal­en­dar.

The fu­ture of SA sport, then, is very fe­male – also con­sid­er­ing the first week’s re­sults from the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. Am­ber Sch­le­busch won the coun­try’s first triathlon gold medal there on day one of the qua­dren­nial show­piece.

The coun­try’s sec­ond medal came cour­tesy Dune Coet­zee, who be­came the first SA fe­male swim­mer to earn a podium place at the Youth Olympics when she earned a sil­ver medal.

SA fe­male sport suf­fers from a se­ri­ous lack of fund­ing but these ath­letes blaz­ing a trail for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions are send­ing out a mes­sage to cor­po­rates that they should not be ig­nored.

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