Kenyan sprinters dashed to the next rounds of their races when the athletics programme started here yesterday morning inside the Concorde Complex.
Gilbert Otieno and Mark Otieno made it to the next round after finishing second and fourth respectively. Tony Chirchir was not as successful though, after finishing sixth in his heat.
Millicent Ndoro led the women sprinters through to the next round with a fourth position, while Eunice Akedogo and Frescia Wangari were second and fourth respectively in the other heat.
Meanwhile, Kenyans were preparing for a clean sweep of the men’s 10,000m due to take place today evening (8pm). Geoffrey Kirui, Vincent Yator and Barsoton are expected to light up the track with a team performance that coaches John Mwithiga and Mike Kosgey said would completely dominate the event.
The men’s 800m event was also rescheduled for today at 7:25pm. Jackson Kivuva, Timothy Kiptum and Job Kinyor are expected to qualify in the race easily.
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Meanwhile, at 7:13pm on Friday evening, the South African anthem rang out for the last time around the Complexe Nautique at the African Games.
And when the ripples had flattened out in the brand-new pool, Team South Africa could pat themselves on their bare backs for a job well done. The team had combined superbly to bring in a total of 56 medals towards the national cause.
Twenty-four of them were gold, 19 silver and 11 bronze.
Nine of those 56 medals came on Friday’s sixth and last day of aquatics action - four gold, three silver and two bronzes. The SA team’s total medal tally is 89 (34 gold, 32 silver and 23 bronze) with five days to go.
It was girl power that got the team’s first medal of the night, with Durban’s Rene Warnes powering to victory in the 200-metre butterfly final. She clocked 2minutes 16.40seconds for a comfortable win with teammate Vanessa Mohr coming sixth in 2:32.12. “I wasn’t really happy with my performances here,” said Warnes, who has represented SA on many an occasions. “I only swam two individual events, the 200m fly tonight and the 200m Individual Medley plus one relay.”
“My time tonight was five seconds outside of my personal best, but I haven’t tapered at all and have swum straight through,” she said.
She might not have been happy with her performance, but the rest of her stay got the thumbs up.
“The accommodation in the Athletes’ Village was great, way better than Maputo, Mozambique four years ago and there was a nice spirit in the team.” Other gold medals went to Doug Erasmus in the 50m freestyle dash (22.61), Myles Brown in the 200m IM (2:01.71) and then the women’s 4×100 medley, which had Jessica Ashley-Cooper, Tatjana Schoenmaker, Mohr and Karin Prinsloo in action and winning in 4:12.36.
Silvers went to Prinsloo in the 200m backstroke (2:14.31) won by the fast-turning Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe in 2:13.29, little Charlise Oberholzer in the gruelling 1500m free style (17:11.34) and then the men’s 4×100 medley consisting of Ricky Ellis, Allaric Basson, Nico Meyer and Calvyn Justus doing duty to finish in 3:42.85 behind Egypt’s 3:42.55.
That was the final event of the competition after Prinsloo had won SA’s first medal (silver in the 100m free) in the first race last Sunday.
The evening’s bronze medals went to Ayrton Sweeney in the 200m IM (2:04.22) and Calvyn Justus in the 50m free (22.98).
All kudos went to Oberholzer though. At just 16, she’s the youngest member of the team.
She’s the long-distance damsel of the women’s squad and swam the 800 and 1500m events. On Wednesday, she got silver in the 800m freestyle in 9:00.15 and was again beaten by fellow teenager, Majda Chebaraka of Algeria on Friday night.