There are quite a few language barriers in Morocco for those who don’t speak French and Arabic but, at the Mohamed V Olympic Pool in Casablanca, the spectators are becoming familiar with South Africa’s national anthem, writes GARY LEMKE.
On Friday night Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika blared out another five times as Team SA picked up five golds and five silvers to take their medals tally in the water to 34 after three nights of swimming, with Saturday’s closing session to come. (See update below.)
It’s been a stellar performance from Team SA who have now claimed 16 gold, 12 silver and six bronze medals in the pool.
One of the stars of the show has been Kaylene Corbett, who claimed her third individual gold medal when taking the women’s 200m breaststroke.
That gave her a clean sweep of the breaststroke golds and in all three races (50, 100 and 200m) she was followed to the wall by her teammate and friend, Christin Mundell. The 17-year-old has had a rich tournament and has taken all three breaststroke silvers as well as the 200 and 400m freestyle silvers for a personal tally of five.
Both the 20-year-old Corbett and Mundell are underlining the depth in women’s breaststroke, given that Tatjana Schoenmaker, who is a potential Tokyo 2020 gold medallist, is not here in Morocco.
Corbett led from start to finish to win her third gold in 2min 29.23sec and was understandably elated afterwards.
‘My plan was to swim as fast as I can and get the medal tally up for South Africa,’ she said. ‘Getting three golds is something I can’t explain, it was incredible to hear the national anthem so many times and in all three races Christin went out hard and we ended up getting the golds and silvers for SA. It was insane to hug a teammate on the podium, very exciting.’
Corbett acknowledged the depth of women’s breaststroke swimming when she said: ‘Us breaststroking girls are in a positive mental state. We are constantly motivating one another and training together with Rocco Meiring in Pretoria. Rocco is the heart and soul of all three of us and the three of us are representing the country.’
In having to reflect on her performances here in Casablanca, Corbett reckoned that the 200m was the one gold she needed. ‘It is my main event, so I was hoping for it the most. I train for it every day, but the 50 came as a surprise as I’m not very good at it and in the 100 I just did my best.’
Elsewhere on the night Erin Gallagher won her second individual gold when taking the women’s 50m backstroke in 29.05 – and the 20-year-old was the one who started the Team SA gold rush in the pool on Wednesday night.
Alaric Basson, who had won the men’s 100m breaststroke, was another to double up when he won the 200m in 2:14.21. ‘This is my preferred event but it was tougher than I thought. I really had to dig deep but did that to pull through for the gold.’
The two other golds went to Ryan Coetzee who claimed the men’s 100m butterfly title in 53.70 after leading all the way and holding off teammate Alard Basson in 53.88.
And finally in terms of gold, Team SA’s Mixed 4x100m freestyle combination of Doug Erasmus, Coetzee, Emma Chelius and Gallagher came home ahead of their rivals.
UPDATE: Team South Africa on Saturday:
Team SA were in action across five codes at the African Games on Saturday – badminton, swimming, cycling, soccer and tennis. They had started the day in second spot on the medals table with 37. The swimming finals start at 6pm SA time today.
Cycling’s women’s team time trial took gold.
Mixed Teams, Group Stage C: Team SA lost 2-3 to Egypt. The scores were 0-2, 1-2, 2-1, 0-2, 2-1, a titanic struggle that lasted 3hr 10min.
CYCLING: Women’s team time trial: Team SA (Carla Oberholzer, Tiffany Keeo, Zanri Rossouw and Maroesjka Matthee) won the gold medal in 48min 43sec.
Men’s 50m freestyle, heats: Brad Tandy won his heat in an African record 22.41sec to qualify fastest for the final while Doug Erasmus also won his heat in 22.66 to qualify second fastest for the final.
Women’s 50m freestyle, heats: Erin Gallagher won her heat in 25.55 to qualify second fastest for the final, while Emma Chelius won her heat in 25.77 to qualify third fastest.
Women’s 100m backstroke: Kerryn Herbst won her heat in 1:04.60 to qualify second fastest for the final while Sinelithemba Bmatha finished fifth in the same heat in 1:07.83 and failed to qualify.
Men’s 100m backstroke, heats: Martin Binedell won his heat in 56.43 to qualify fastest for the final while Mogammad Warley finished second in his heat in 59.61 to qualify for the final eighth fastest.
Men’s 200m IM: Neil Fair finished second in his heat in 2:08.09 to qualify third fastest for the final while Ayrton Sweeney finished third in the same heat in 2:09.87 to qualify sixth fastest.
Women’s 200m IM, heats: Jessica Whelan won her heat in 2:22.67 to qualify fastest for the final while Christin Mundell won her heat in 2:24.01 to qualify second fastest.