Transport woes for Le Clos, Proteas miss out on the semis.
By Karien Jonckheere.
It’s been a tough few days for Chad le Clos. Not only did the former Olympic champion finish in the most heart-breaking position in sport – fourth – in his 100m butterfly Commonwealth Games final on Tuesday, but he then followed that up with another fourth place in the 4x100m mixed medley relay along with South African teammates, Pieter Coetzé, Lara van Niekerk and Aimee Canny.
There was more disappointment to come, however, with the South African men’s team missing their 4x100m medley relay heat on Wednesday morning because one of their swimmers was stuck on a bus trying to reach the Sandwell Aquatics Centre.
To make matters even worse, Le Clos had arrived in Birmingham looking to claim the record for the most medals by any athlete in Commonwealth Games history. He needed just two more and claimed one of the those with silver in the 200m butterfly to equal the record of 18, which was previously shared by shooters Mick Gault and Phil Adams, but was hoping for another in the relay.
In the meantime, Australian swimming star Emma McKeon has gone one better, her seven medals in Birmingham so far and 12 from two previous Games taking her to a record 19, with the women’s 4x100m medley relay potentially still to come tonight.
Meanwhile, Matt Sates finished fourth in his 200m individual medley heat in 2:01.99 and Andrew Ross fifth in his in 2:03.47 meaning neither progressed to Wednesday’s final.
That leaves Rebecca Meder (50m backstroke), Dune Coetzee (400m freestyle) and the women’s 4x100m medley relay team as the only South Africans in action on the final night of swimming in Birmingham.
SIMBINE, NTUTU LEAD ATHLETICS MEDAL CHARGE
All eyes will, however, be on the Alexander Stadium track where defending champion Akani Simbine will be looking for 100m glory, with the semifinals scheduled for earlier in the evening. Simbine remains the chief medal hope for the SA athletics team which has been hit by a slew of Covid withdrawals.
Also in the medal mix is defending champion in the men's T11/12 100m for visually impaired athletes, Jonathan Ntutu, although he admitted his build-up to the Games has not been ideal with a lack of financial support.
Ntutu won his heat in 10.89 to progress to Thursday’s final but teammate Jaco Smit finished second in his heat in 11.32 and will miss out on the final.
"I've had a lot of struggles coming into this competition, but I found a way to get back so let's see what happens in the final, "Ntutu said after the heats.
"I'm quite happy with the time after all the struggles I've had to come through. I feel now I'm in a position to successfully defend that title."
PROTEAS BEAT WALES BUT MISS OUT ON NETBALL SEMIS
Over at the National Exhibition Centre, South Africa’s netballers bounced back from their heavy defeat to Australia with a 69-51 win against Wales. But the result is not enough to see the Proteas progressing to the semifinals after an earlier loss to Jamaica.
"We are gutted we didn’t beat the top-four nations this time around, but we have six players in our side who are at their first Commonwealth Games and they will build on this experience now and walk away with a lot of credit," said SA captain Bongi Msomi after the match.
"The next World Cup is in Cape Town and we are really proud to be hosting and helping to put all the emerging African nations in this sport firmly on the map,"she added.
"These are exciting times for our country and I’m just blessed that the big nations will be coming to us.
"People think of rugby when they think of South Africa but we need them thinking about netball, so we have to hold on to our fifth-place ranking and build on that."
Elsewhere, Tshepo Tshite finished fourth in his 800m heat in 1:49.82 and missed out on qualifying for the next round, while Dom Scott will contest the women’s 10 000m final on Wednesday night.