Veteran Daryl Impey wins Commonwealth Games silver in road race.
By Karien Jonckheere.
Veteran cyclist Daryl Impey added one more medal to Team South Africa’s haul on the penultimate day of action at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, securing silver in the men’s road race.
In a race which featured several attacks throughout, the 37-year-old South African was part of a four-man breakaway from the lead group that looked to be the riders that would challenge for the medals, but they were reeled in with around 26km to go.
2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas made a late charge for victory in the final 1.7km but he was also caught by the chasing pack as they sprinted for the line. New Zealander Aaron Gate claimed his fourth gold medal of these Games with Impey second and Scotland’s Finn Crockett third.
Fellow South African Morne van Niekerk, who worked hard for Impey throughout, finished in 12th place while Callum Ormiston was 37th and Gustav Basson 66th.
"There were lot of attacks... We knew the race was going to be aggressive like that and we were just caring for each other all day and that's what made the difference," said Impey afterwards, also paying tribute to his teammate.
"I would've liked to have gold but Aaron is a lot faster than me at the end. We had a tough race all day, it was really difficult and I had really good support from Morne, so I think we can be chuffed I was second. It's my first medal at the Games, so it was special.
"I missed out on the Olympics last year because I broke my pelvis and this is a nice way to end my Commonwealth Games career, so I'm happy," he added.
The women’s road race also came down to a final sprint won by Australia’s Georgia Baker. South Africa’s Ashleigh Moolman-Pasion and Hayley Preen finished in the pack in 11th and 12th respectively while compatriot Kerry Jonker was 39th.
This is the third consecutive Games where Team South Africa have clinched a cycling medal on the road after Clint Hendricks’ bronze in 2018 and Moolman-Pasio’s bronze in Glasgow four years before that.
Meanwhile, the melody of Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrika rang out across Alexander Stadium in Birmingham on Sunday. It wasn’t for a South African gold medal, however, but rather for Muzala Samukonga after the young Zambian stormed to victory in the 400m.
Zambia's anthem, of course, has borrowed the tune from the famous Enoch Sontonga hymn.
19-year-old Samukonga produced the race of his life, coming from nowhere down the home straight to clinch the gold in a personal best and national record time of 44.66 ahead of England’s Matt Hudson-Smith (44.81) and Jonathan Jones of Barbados (44.89).
It looked like world championship bronze medallist Hudson-Smith was on his way to gold in front of his home crowd, but Samukonga edged in front right on the line to take the win.
Just a few days earlier, Samukonga had been removed from the track in a wheelchair after collapsing when he pushed a little too hard on his way to victory and a first sub-45 second time in his heat. It seemed an unnecessary exertion at the time, given he was 10m ahead of the pack.
But the teenager recovered in time to finish second in his semifinal on Friday before his triumphant gold-medal run on Sunday.
Meanwhile, South African Jo-Ane van Dyk finished sixth in the women’s javelin with a second-round effort of 57.12m. Australian two-time world champion Kelsey-Lee Barber produced a final-round throw of 64.43m to take the gold off her compatriot Mackenzie Little, who then settled for silver after a personal best effort of 64.27m in the fifth round.
Team South Africa have one last shot at a bronze medal in Monday morning's hockey playoff against England while the last athletes in action on the track are Dominique Scott in the 5000m and the women’s 4x400m relay team – both on Sunday night.