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SA’s golden girls shine again in the pool at Commonwealth Games

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South Africa’s breaststroke specialists wrapped up a clean sweep of the women’s finals in Birmingham last night, as the national team raked in four more medals on day five of the Commonwealth Games. After winning the 50m breaststroke final last week, 19-year-old Lara van Niekerk added the 100m crown, scorching to victory in 1:05.47. Defending…

South Africa’s breaststroke specialists wrapped up a clean sweep of the women’s finals in Birmingham last night, as the national team raked in four more medals on day five of the Commonwealth Games.

After winning the 50m breaststroke final last week, 19-year-old Lara van Niekerk added the 100m crown, scorching to victory in 1:05.47.

Defending champion Tatjana Schoenmaker, who had already won the 200m title, settled for second place over the 100m distance in 1:07.05.

Kaylene Corbett, the 200m bronze medallist, ended seventh in the 100m final in 1:07.62.

Lara van Niekerk on her way to victory in the 100m breaststroke final. Picture: Gallo Images

Meanwhile, Pieter Coetze wrapped up an impressive treble of his own, securing a third backstroke medal.

After winning the 100m backstroke and grabbing silver in the 50m final earlier in the Games, he took bronze in the 200m event last night in 1:56.77.

Chad le Clos narrowly missed out, however, on extending his record 18 career Commonwealth medals.

Le Clos finished fourth in the men’s 100m butterfly final in 51.61, touching the wall just 0.21 outside a historic podium place.

Michael Houlie was also just short in the men’s 50m breaststroke final, ending fourth in 27.36. He was 0.04 shy of Scotland’s Ross Murdoch who snatched bronze in 27.32.

In the women’s 800m freestyle final, Michaela Pulford finished sixth in 8:44.77, and the SA mixed 4x100m medley relay team were sixth in 3:51.56.

Bowls medal

Elsewhere, the SA women’s fours lawn bowls team earned the silver medal.

The national quartet – Thabelo Muvhango, Bridget Calitz, Esme Kruger and Johanna Snyman – lost 17-10 to India in the gold-medal playoff to take the runner-up spot.

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In other sports, Adriaan Wildschutt finished fifth with a solid performance in the men’s 10 000m final, completing the 25-lap race in 27:41.04 on the opening day of track and field competition.

Discus thrower Yolandi Stander finished sixth in the women’s final with a 55.49m heave and sprinter Sheryl James was seventh in the women’s 100m T37/38 final in 13.68.

Akani Simbine kept his medal hopes alive in defence of his 100m title, coasting through the opening round of the men’s short sprint.

Simbine won his first-round heat in 10.10 seconds, progressing to today’s semifinals.

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Weightlifter Ruben Kruger finished sixth in the men’s 96kg division, lifting a total of 303kg, while artistic gymnasts Naveen Daries (floor exercise) and Shante Koti (balance beam) were seventh and eighth in their respective finals.

In team sports, the SA women’s wheelchair basketball team beat Kenya 6-5 in the playoffs to finish sixth, while the national women’s hockey side thumped Kenya 15-0 for their first Pool B victory, spearheaded by Jean-Leigh du Toit who scored five goals.

The Proteas struggled again in the women’s T20 cricket tournament, falling in their second Group B defeat with a 26-run loss to England.

South Africa were lying fifth in the overall table with 16 medals (six gold, five silver and fve bronze) after five days of competition at the Games.

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