SA strong on Olympic athletics track
9 August 2012
South African athletes showed up strongly on Wednesday at the London Olympic Games, with 110m hurdler Lehaan Fourie leading the way, while Anosa Jobodwana and Caster Semenya also shone.
In the early part of the evening athletics' programme. Fourie contested the semi-finals of the 110m hurdles, running alongside 2008 Beijing Olympic champion Dayron Robles. Rising to the challenge, the South African placed second behind Robles to secure a place in the final.
Career best time
The Cuban star won in 13.10, with Fourie clocking a career best 13.28, just two-hundredths of a second outside of Shaun Bownes' South African national record.
Later in the evening, he ran in the final of the event where he unfortunately failed to reproduce the form he had shown in the semi-finals, finishing seventh in 13.59. His semi-finals time would have been good for fourth place.
Victory went to the USA's Aries Merrit in 12.92 seconds, just one-hundredth outside the Olympic record set by Liu Xiang in Athens in 2004. Jason Richardson placed second and Hansle Parchment finished in the bronze medal position.
Jobodwana vs Bolt
Anaso Jobodwana went up against defending champion Usain Bolt in the semi-finals of the 200 metres.
The Jamaican superstar made it look ridiculously easy as he cruised to victory in 20.18 seconds, but Jobodwana looked good too as he claimed second place in a personal best of 20.27 seconds. That result guaranteed him a place in Thursday's final.
Like Fourie in the 110m hurdles, Jobodwana is unlikely to challenge for a medal in the final - not with men like Bolt, Yohan Blake, Wallace Spearman and Christophe Lemaitre running against him - but that should not overshadow his outstanding achievement of making into the Olympic final, a position only eight athletes in the entire world get to achieve.
South African flag bearer Caster Semenya took part in the first round of qualifying in the 800 metres. The first three runners from each of the six heats would qualify for the semi-finals, along with the next six fastest finishers.
Alysia Johnson Montano went out fast in Semenya's heat one, building up a massive lead before the other athletes began to respond. By that time, the American had already all but wrapped up her place in the semi-finals.
Semenya was running alongside Morocco's Halima Hachlaf and Rose Mary Almanza of Cuba. With a late surge, she pulled clear of the other two to finish second and claim a place in the semi-finals in a time of 2:00.71.
Hachlaf ended third to ensure her path into the next round, while Almanza's time proved to be the fastest among the six fastest losers.
South African record holder in the decathlon Willem Coertzen was in an excellent 11th place after the opening day of the competition.
Competing in five events, he clocked 11.09 seconds in the 100 metres, leapt 7.17 metres in the long jump, recorded a distance of 13.79m in the shot put, cleared a personal best 2.05m in the high jump, and another personal best of 48.56 in the 400 metres.
World record holder, Ashton Eaton of the USA, leads the standings on 4 661 points. Coertzen is on 4 142.
BMX racer Sifiso Nhlapo took part in the seeding time trial for men.
Unfortunately, one of his cleats unclipped as he took off from the top of the ramp, which cost him some time, and in the end he finished in a lowly 30th place, just over three seconds behind the fastest man on the day, Raymon van der Biezen of The Netherlands.
That disappointing performance means Nhlapo, a two-time World Championship silver medallist, will be in the outside lane, lane eight, in his quarterfinal heat on Thursday.
The South African women's hockey team came out on the wrong side of their clash against Japan for ninth place, losing 2-1 in extra time. It's a result they were very unhappy about.
For the first three-quarters of the contest, Marsha Marescia and company were in charge of the game and led 1-0 on a goal by Lisa-Marie Deetlefs.
Towards the end of the contest, though, a flurry of cards, including three yellows, saw South Africa reduced to as few as nine players and they struggled to escape Japan's pressure. The Asian side eventually levelled seven minutes from time through Ai Murakami and the contest went into extra time.
With just under 10 minutes played of the extra period, the Japanese then secured victory from a penalty stroke by Murakami.
It came from a penalty corner that the umpire had said hit the foot of SA defender Kate Woods, who was a mere two metres from the match official.
The umpire was wrong; in fact, three of the six short corners awarded against South Africa were incorrectly deemed to have hit South African feet, but the girls in green and gold had somewhat foolishly burnt their video referral early in the game on a marginal call. A successful referral means a team keeps the referral, but South Africa had messed up with their iffy challenge early on.
As if that was not bad enough, defender Lenise Marais was struck in front of goal from the erroneously awarded penalty corner. The umpire insisted on awarding a penalty stroke, despite the vehement protests of the South Africans that goalkeeper Mariette Rix was behind Marais, and would have stopped the shot.
Again, minus their video referral, South Africa were the victims of a bad call. Ultimately, it cost them the game.
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