Hen­dricks takes gap to earn road race bronze

Sunday Tribune - - NEWS&VIEWS - OCKERT DE VIL­LIERS

SOUTH Africa wrapped up its track and field medal haul at the 2018 Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth Games with the men’s 4x100m re­lay team win­ning sil­ver with a new na­tional record on Satur­day morn­ing.

The coun­try’s ath­letes won a to­tal of 14 medals – five gold, four sil­vers, and five bronzes – leav­ing them in joint-third place with just the marathons left on the pro­gramme on Sun­day which will not fea­ture any South Africans.

The re­lay quar­tet pro­duced the goods on the night with newly crowned Com­mon­wealth 100m cham­pion carrying the ba­ton over the line in sec­ond place with a time of 38.24 sec­onds.

The team shaved 0.11 off the record the re­lay team of Simon Ma­gakwe, Bru­in­tjies, Sim­bine and Ncin­cilili Titi posted four years ago.

Sim­bine had it all to do with Eng­land and Aus­tralia in front and with Ja­maican Yo­han Blake re­ceiv­ing his ba­ton prac­ti­cally at the same time as the South African.

Blake on his in­side was no match for his speed, he chased down the Aussie and was gain­ing on Eng­land’s Harry Aikines-ary­eetey but was just pipped at the line.

“I still want to see if there is a re­play on, but I know I chased those guys down and we were pretty far be­hind,

“All that was in my head was ‘just get in front, just get in front, just catch’ and I re­mem­ber see­ing Blake com­ing up and I said, ‘no ways is he go­ing to get me this time’.

“I moved, and I was get­ting close to Harry of Eng­land and I was just like ‘give me 10 me­tres more’, but the 10 me­tres didn’t come. I am just re­ally happy that we could get a medal for South Africa.”

Sim­bine said he sur­prised him­self with his storm­ing run where he nearly caught the Aikines-ary­eetey but still man­aged to out­run ev­ery­one else in that home stretch.

“I knew I could fin­ish re­ally strong, but I didn’t think I could fin­ish that strong be­cause that was re­ally, re­ally strong and I ac­tu­ally sur­prised my­self,”

“It is just the be­gin­ning of the sea­son and my top-end speed is look­ing re­ally well and I am just happy that I could come here and run and rep­re­sent South Africa.”

Break­ing the record was quite an achieve­ment for a team that has prac­tised only four times be­fore the fi­nal.

Bru­in­tjies said South Africa can beat the best na­tions in the BA­TON CHARGE: Eng­land’s Harry Aikines-ary­eetey, left, leads South Africa’s Akani Sim­bine to win the 4x100m re­lay.

world and push for even faster times if the re­lay team spends more time rac­ing and train­ing to­gether.

“If we can get a cou­ple more ses­sions in then we can be un­beat­able, prac­tice makes per­fect so if we can get the changeovers right I don’t any­body would be able to beat us,” Bru­in­tjies said.

South Africa fi­nally de­liv­ered on its prom­ise as a pos­si­ble re­lay pow­er­house after years of bungling by ad­min­is­tra­tors in cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for the coun­try’s top sprint­ers to com­bine as a team.

At the 2015 IAAF World Cham­pi­onships in Bei­jing, the

re­lay team failed dis­mally due to a lack of prepa­ra­tions when a mis­take at the first change over between Bru­in­tjies and Jo­bod­wana ended their charge for sil­ver­ware in the heats.

The coun­try failed to send teams to the IAAF World Re­lays in 2014, 2015, and 2017 fail­ing to cap­i­talise on the ris­ing sprint­ing rev­o­lu­tion.

The coun­try has pro­duced five sub-10 sec­ond ath­letes since 2014 but it is yet to trans­form this into re­lay suc­cess.

“From 2014 these guys have built a cul­ture in the re­lay team, a cul­ture where we know what we are ca­pa­ble of as a team,” Jo­bod­wana said.

“Be­ing part of a team is

al­ways great even though we com­pete as in­di­vid­u­als but if we are all wear­ing the green and gold we are do­ing it for the coun­try then it is al­ways a big thing in South Africa.”

Mean­while, African javelin champ Phil-mar Janse van Rens­burg came close to step­ping onto the podium. Janse van Rens­burg fin­ished fourth in the fi­nal with a best heave of 79.83m, less than a me­tre short of his per­sonal best.

He would have had to im­prove his PB by two me­tres for a chance of a medal with the third-placed An­der­son Peters of Gre­nada tak­ing the bronze with a throw of 82.20m. CLINT Hen­dricks added the road race bronze medal to South Africa’s medal tally with a gutsy sprint for the line at the 2018 Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth Games yes­ter­day morn­ing.

South Africa’s medal har­vest slowed to a trickle on the penul­ti­mate day of the Games with Hen­dricks and the men’s 4x100m re­lay team adding the only medals to the coun­try’s tally.

The team will go into to­day’s fi­nal day of the qua­dren­nial show­piece in fifth place with the hopes of the Bl­itzboks adding to their haul of 37 medals – 13 gold, 11 sil­ver, and 13 bronze.

If South Africa man­age to hold on to fifth place it will be the fourth time the coun­try has fin­ished in this po­si­tion in the medals ta­ble since the 1994 Games.

Hen­dricks was still in the thick of things, stay­ing in the lead bunch tucked away to­wards the back, as the riders ap­proached the last six kilo­me­tres of the 168.3km race at Cur­rumbin Beach­front.

Eleven riders launched the sprint to the line with less than a kilo­me­tre to go, with Hen­dricks leav­ing it per­haps a bit late. But the 26-year-old – the 2016 Cape Town Cy­cle Tour cham­pion from Paarl – nev­er­the­less pro­duced an im­pres­sive dash to squeeze through a small gap.

He pipped North­ern Ire­land’s Mark Downey and New Zealand’s Hay­den Mccormick as they prac­ti­cally crossed the line at the same time of 3:57.01.

Hen­dricks came into the Games buoyed by his re­cent vic­tory at the 106km Her­ald Cy­cle Tour Road Race.

It was an in­cred­i­ble come­back for Aus­tralia’s Steele von Hoff, who raced to vic­tory seven weeks after frac­tur­ing four ver­te­brae, with Welsh­man Jonathan Mould fin­ish­ing in sec­ond place.

Am­a­teur wrestler Michael Gait­skill could not add to the grap­plers’ two medals from the last two days, los­ing to Alexan­der Moore of Canada 12-2 on tech­ni­cal points.

Martin Eras­mus be­came the first South African since the 1958 Em­pire Games to win a wrestling gold medal at the qua­dren­nial show­piece the day be­fore, while Hanru Botha won sil­ver in the 74kg cat­e­gory.

South Africa was in with a chance of a rare ta­ble ten­nis medal with Theo Cogill fea­tur­ing in the bronze-medal match in the men’s TT6-10 sin­gles.

How­ever, he lost to Wales’ Joshua Stacey 3-2 with scores of 11-8, 4-11, 6-11, 13-11, 8-11.

Rio Olympic diver Ju­lia Vin­cent, who was fourth in the women’s 1m spring­board on Fri­day, had to be con­tent with sixth place in the 3m spring­board fi­nal, scor­ing 291.45.

PIC­TURE: LEON LESTRADE/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY/ANA

STOMP­ING GROUND: Lukhanyo Am of the Cell C Sharks makes his pres­ence felt dur­ing the Su­per Rugby match against the Vo­da­com Bulls at Jon­s­son Kings Park Sta­dium yes­ter­day. In sup­port of Am is team­mate Tera Mtembu.

PIC­TURE: AP

CLINT HEN­DRICKS

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