RIO – Louis Meintjes and Daryl Impey kickstart Team South Africa’s individual Olympic campaign when they take to the roads – and hills – around Rio on Saturday in the men’s cycling road race.
Both competed in the Tour de France and Meintjes rode out of his skin to finish eighth overall in the torturous three-week event, and Saturday’s 260km course should suit him as he and Impey carry the flag.
‘Daryl and I know each other quite well so we’ll know what to do. We just have to make sure we’re always in the race and then can decide what to do from there,’ he said. ‘A lot will depend on the pace … whether it’s slow and controlled or whether the guys drill it up the hills. The latter sort of race would suit me more.’
Favourite for the race is Alejandro Valverde, while Vincenzo Nibali, Chris Froome, Julian Alaphilippe and Dan Martin must be considered live medallists with the South Africans needing everything to go their way on the day.
The 23-year-old Michael Meyer will be the first swimmer to take to the water when he sets off in the second of four heats in the men’s 400m Individual Medley at the Olympics Aquatics stadium. With a qualifying time of 4min 15.71sec, he is unlikely to reach the evening’s final, but Sebastien Rousseau, who has a 4:14.75 entry has a puncher’s chance, but will need luck on his side. Only eight swimmers of the 24 entered will go through to the final.
Similarly Myles Brown, in the men’s 400m freestyle, where he takes off in lane one in the fifth heat. Only eight of the 50 entrants will progress to the evening’s final and the odds are stacked against the South African.
One swimmer who should be around for the evening session is Cameron van der Burgh, the Olympic 100m breaststroke champion. Four years after his London triumph he’s now again regarded as a medallist but Britain’s Adam Peaty is the favourite for gold. Van der Burgh will be hoping to make a statement in the semi-final to set himself up for a good lane for Sunday’s final.
It doesn’t get any easier for Banyana Banyana, ranked 52 in the world, when they take on 12th-ranked People’s Republic of China in their second Group E match at the Olympic stadium.
Janine van Wyk’s team defended well for long periods in their opener against fifth-ranked Sweden, before they were undone by a scrappy 75th minute goal. The other game on the day saw hosts Brazil (No8 in the world) defeat China 3-0 to go to the top of the standings.
Anything less than a victory would all but mathematically leave South Africa on the brink of elimination, given they tackle Brazil in their final group game next week. However, in the game against Sweden, Banyana Banyana showed enough to prompt coach Vera Pauw to say that she felt her team ‘was closing the gap’ on the higher-ranked countries in the world and that things are still a work in progress.
Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling finished fourth in the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne in May, where 0.18 of a second separated the second, third and fourth boats, and they compete in the Men’s Pair at the impressive Lagoa Stadium on Saturday. The big favourites are the formidable New Zealanders Hamish Bond and Eric Murray, the reigning Olympic and world champions.
Here is a list of South Africans in competition on 6 August (Saturday). Times are Rio local and in brackets is SA time.
9.30am (2.30pm): Men’s Road Race: Louis Meintjes, Daryl Impey
7pm (12 midnight): Women’s Group E: South Africa vs China
10.30am (3.30pm): Artistic Gymnastics, men’s qualification, sub-division 1: Ryan Patterson
1.14pm (6.14pm): Men’s 400m Individual Medley (heat three): Michael Meyer
1.20pm (6.20pm): Men’s 400m Individual Medley (heat four): Sebastien Rousseau
2.12pm (7.12pm): Men’s 400m Freestyle (heat five): Myles Brown
3.16pm (8.16pm): Men’s 100m Breaststroke (heat five): Cameron van der Burgh
10.03pm (3.03am Sun): Men’s 400m Individual Medley (final): Potentially Michael Meyer, Sebastien Rousseau
10.30pm (3.30am Sun): Men’s 400m Freestyle (final): Potentially Myles Brown
11.08pm and 11.16pm (4.05am and 4.16am Sun): Men’s 100m Breaststroke (semi-finals): Potentially Cameron van der Burgh
10.30am (3.30pm): Men’s Pair (heat 1): Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling
See more at: http://www.sascoc.co.za/