Saturday, 24 July 2021 20:22

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

It was a challenging opening day for Team SA at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Saturday.

Stefan De Bod was the only rider of the three South Africans to finish the men’s road race, while there were struggles for the men’s pairs and men’s four rowers, while our only judo player went out in the first round.

The women’s water polo team were beaten in their historical Olympic debut and the men’s hockey team also tasted defeat.

For a complete breakdown of how Team SA fared on Saturday, see below.

CYCLING
Men’s Road Race: Gold went to Richard Carapez of Ecuador, followed by Belgium’s Wout van Aert and Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar. Team SA’s Nicholas Dlamini was in the five-man lead breakaway and was eventually swallowed up by the peloton with 48km to go after a brave ride. He’d been in the lead group for 186km for the tough 234km route, caught on Mount Fiji. Stefan De Bod led the Team SA challenge over the finish line, in 52nd position (6hr 16 min 53 sec), 11:27 minutes behind the winner. Dlamini and Ryan Gibbons recorded DNFs.
 
HOCKEY
Men's Pool B: South Africa 1 Great Britain 3. Great Britain scored after 2min from a penalty corner, but Matthew Guise-Brown made it 1-1 after 13min, also from a penalty corner. The visitors reclaimed the advantage in the 32nd min and then sealed the issue in the 55th min with a third goal.
Women's Pool A: Ireland 2 South Africa 0. It was a case of 8th in the world beating 16th but South Africa were anything but outclassed. A goal in each half was enough to settle the issue in the way of the match favourites though
 
JUDO
Women's 48kg: South Africa's Michaela Whitebooi, the only Judo player in the TeamSA squad, lost by Ippon to reigning Olympic champion and current World Championship bronze medallist, Paula Pareto of Argentina. The contest time was 2min 7sec. Whitebooi was more than holding her own until the time of the ending, where she made an error that was punished and had to tap out from a choke.
 
ROWING
Men's Pair: Luc Daffarn and Jake Green finished fifth (out of five) in their heat at the Sea Forest Waterway, racing in lane one. Winners were Romania in 6min 33.86sec, followed by Netherlands Serbia, Spain and South Africa. Daffarn and Green were tie third after the first 500m, but suffered after that. They finished 30.16sec behind the winners. The result means they now go into the repechage.
Men's Four: Lawrence Brittain, Kyle Schoonbee, John Smith and Sandro Torrente finished fifth in their heat in 6min 25.34sec, some 31.07sec behind heat winners Australia. United States, Netherlands and Romania finished second, third and fourth. South Africa progressed to the repechage. Competing in lane one, the South Africans were always up against it, 3.65sec behind after 500m, 6.21sec behind after 1000m and 14.58sec behind after 1500m.
 
SWIMMING
Women's 100m butterfly, Heats: Erin Gallagher finished eighth in her heat in 59.69sec, some 3.14sec behind Canada's Margaret Macneil. Gallagher had come in to the competition with an entry time of 57.67sec. She finished 26th overall and missed out on the semi-finals.
Men's 100m breaststroke, Heats: Michael Houlie finished eight in his heat in 1:01.22. That placed him 37th overall and he failed to qualify for the semi-finals. He had come in with an entry time of 59.64sec.
 
WATERPOLO
Women's Group A: South Africa 4 Spain 29: South Africa made their debut at the Olympics having never been represented at the Games. They were up against the world No4s and competed well in the first quarter, in which they finished 2-5 behind. The longer the match went though the stronger Spain got. The stretched to a 14-3 lead at half-time and then 19-4 after the third quarter. They closed out the match with 10 more goals in the final quarter.

Teenager Elena Ruiz, making her Olympic debut at the age of 16, top scored for Spain with five goals, while nine more of her team mates were also on target.

Japan, who like South Africa are playing in their first Olympics, started brightly against the U.S. and even drew level at 3-3, but were outpowered and outclassed once their opponents settled into the match.

 Here is a breakdown of all Team SA's representatives in action on Sunday.
(All times in brackets denote SA times)

Cycling
Women's Road Race – 1pm (7.00am): There are two Team SA riders competing in the road race, Carla Oberholzer and Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio. Other countries, like Netherlands, Italy and Germany, have four riders in the field, which has 67 entrants over the 137km route. Defending Olympic champion and double world gold medallist Anna van der Breggen is the favourite.

Football
Men's Group A – 5pm (10.00am): David Notoane's team take on France in their second match of the Games. They held out for 70 minutes against hosts Japan in their opener and take on France in a must-win encounter at the Saitama Stadium. France were beaten 4-1 by Mexico in their opening game.

Gymnastics
Women's Artistic gymnastics – 11.55am (4.55am): There are four disciplines in the competition, this being sub-division two. They will start with vault, followed by uneven bars, balance beam and floor.

Hockey
Men's Pool B – 9.15pm (2.15pm): The action comes thick and fast with South Africa continuing their Olympic campaign with a game against the Netherlands at the Oi Hockey Stadium. The Netherlands lost their opening game 3-1 against Belgium on Saturday, while South Africa also lost 3-1 against Great Britain. However, SA played better than the final scoreline suggests. The other teams in their pool are Canada and Germany, the latter winning their game on Saturday.
Pool standings after 1 game: Belgium 3pts, Germany 3pts, Great Britain 3pts, South Africa 0 pts, Canada 0pts, Netherlands 0pts

Rowing
Men's Pair repechage – 9.40am (2.40am): Luc Daffarn and Jake Green finished fifth (out of five) in their heat at the Sea Forest Waterway on Satutrday and head into the repechage. There they will face crews from Belarus, Spain and France. The first three will progress to semi-final A/B
Men's Four repechage – 1.10pm (6.10am): The men's four of Lawrence Brittain, Kyle Schoonbee, John Smith and Sandro Torrente will have been bitterly disappointed by theri race on Saturday where the brought up the field. They had been seen as medal candidates. They have a chance to rebound here where the first two crews will advance to Final A, with the remaining crews to Final B. In opposition are Canada, Romania, Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland

Skateboarding
Men's Street – 8.30am (1.30am), Heat 1: Brandon Valjalo makes history as he becomes South Africa's first contest in his sport which is having its debut at an Olympic Games. Tha action happens at Ariake Park

Swimming
Women's 100m breaststroke, Heat 6 – 7.48pm (12.48pm): Tatjana Schoenmaker, the golden girl of the pool, takes to the water in the heats. Expect her to cruise into the semi-finals as she sets out to show why she has been touted by many to be the standout performer for Team SA at these Tokyo Games.
Men's 100m backstroke, Heat 5 – 8.01pm (1.01pm): Teenager Piete Coetzee makes his Olympic debut aged just 17 when he swims in lane one in the fifth heat. The fastest 16 swimmers from across all six heats will progress to the semi-finals

Surfing
Women's round 1, Heat – 11am (4.00am): Bianca Buitendag, Team SA's only surfing representative as the sport makes its Olympic debut, takes to the water at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach. She is up against Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia), Brisa Hennessy (Costa Rica) and Mahina Maeda (Japan). The first two surfers in each heat advance to round three with the bottom two surfers going through to round two

Water polo
Men's Group A, preliminary round – 10.00am (3.00am): South Africa vs Italy. South Africa make their debut at the Olympics for the first time since Rome 1960. They face a tough baptism of fire against the No7-ranked team in the world. Also in the group are Hungary, Greece, United States and Japan.