The week that was in South African Sports
There were some outstanding performances by male South African athletes at the 2009 Athletissima Super Grand Prix in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday night. Pick of the crop was Olympic silver medallist Khotso Moekoena’s performance in the long jump where he secured victory with a distance of 8.05m for his fifth international win of the year.
Bloemfontein’s Johan Cronje ran out of his skin to finish an excellent second behind Antar Zerguelaine of Algeria in the one miler, while LJ van Zyl finished a credible third in the 400 metre hurdles. In the 800 metres, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi ran an excellent race to finish second behind Sudan’s Ismail Ahmed Ismail. Mulaudzi’s time of 1 min 44.97 sec was only 0.16 sec slower than his winning time in the national championships at Stellenbosch in March …
The vacant International Boxing Organisation (IBO) bantamweight title is up for grabs at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park on Saturday night when South African bantamweight champion Simpiwe Vetyeka squares off against Filipino veteran Eric Barcelona in what should be a humdinger of a clash.
Vetyeka is a crafty boxer with a solid punch having stopped 12 of his 21 opponents inside the distance. The 28-year-old fighter from Duncan Village in the Eastern Cape has tasted defeat just once, losing on points to Hozumi Hasegawa of Japan in a World Boxing Council (WBC) title challenge in May 2007. Vetyeka will be up against a 67 fight veteran in the form of the 27-year-old Barcelona, but must be considered a slight favourite over the Filipino who is not a heavy puncher, with just 18 of his 48 victories coming via the short route.
In the main supporting bout, Lovemore Ndou takes on his namesake Phillip Ndou, for the vacant IBO welterweight title. In another interesting clash on the bill, unbeaten prospects Jared ‘The Storm’ Lovett and Thomas ‘Tommy Gun’ Oosthuizen do battle for the IBO Youth Light-Heavyweight title.
There was some interesting cycling action that took place on Sunday when Christoff van Heerden and Marissa van der Merwe won the men and women’s titles respectively at the Pick n Pay Weekend Argus Rotary Knysa Cycle Tour. Van Heerden and Van der Merwe, both riding for the MTN Energade team, were tested in the challenging 100km race, which incorporated numerous climbs.
The event formed Round 4 of the acclaimed 13-event Alpha Pharm Seeding Series and both races were won in tight bunch sprints, with Van Heerden edging out Jay Thompson to claim victory in 2 hours, 26 minutes and 59 seconds and Van der Merwe pipping Jennie Stenerhag to the line in a rapid 2 hours and 55 minutes. Round 5 of the series is the Medihelp Jock Cycle Classique, which will be held in Barberton, Mpumalanga on Sunday, July 18. And, if the action is as good as it was on Sunday, spectators and fans should be in for a real treat.
Kristene Smuts wrote her name into the motorcycle competition history books on Saturday in Mpumalanga when she became the first woman to win the national motorcycle economy run in its 27-year history. Smuts, riding a BMW 650 CS, overcame an early hiccup when she started the event eight minutes late as a result of a flat battery to claim first place overall.
Smuts also placed first in class A (for motorcycles with an engine capacity of up to 700cc) and recorded an impressive fuel consumption figure of 3,2 litres per 100km. Reg Gurnell, on a KTM 690 SMC, and Peter de la Rey, on a BMW F800 ST, were second and third overall respectively.
The Springboks suffered a disappointing defeat to the touring British and Irish Lions this past Saturday going down 28-9 to their Northern Hemisphere opponents. The Boks were outplayed in most facets of the game and put on a lacklustre display against the Lions who outscored them by three tries to nil.
Despite their loss, the Boks still managed to win the best of three series 2-1, although Saturdays defeat at Ellis Park means that the South Africans will go into the upcoming Tri-Nations tournament against Australia and New Zealand looking somewhat vulnerable. The Lions will leave South Africa a little disappointed at having lost the series to the Boks, although they did manage a more than respectable tour record of seven wins, two losses and one draw.
There will be plenty of ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division action taking place on Friday when Boland tackle the Leopards at the Boland Stadium in Wellington and the Cheetahs confront the men from the Griquas at Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein. The action continues on Saturday when the Blue Bulls square off against the Lions at the Bull Ring in Pretoria while the Sharks battle Western Province at Newlands in Cape Town.
Kaizer Chiefs’ new coach Vladimer Vermezovic will face a stern test of his leadership when the Amakhosi take on Iran in a friendly at the Free State Stadium on Saturday at 4pm. Serbian born Vermezovic, who replaced Mushin Ertugal last month, said he was excited about the challenges that awaited him in his new job.
After the match against the Iranians, Vermezovic’s team will take on Manchester City in the Vodacom Challenge at Durban’s Absa Stadium on July 21. Chiefs recently defeated Premier Soccer League (PSL) champions Supersport United 2-1 to lift the Eastern Cape Premier Cup. The Amakhosi also defeated Bay United 2-1 in the semi-finals of that tournament, which was Vermezovic’s first match as coach.
With the world swimming championships in Rome coming up later this month, things are looking good for the South African women’s swimming team. The quartet, lead by U.S. based student Leone Vorster, set a new national record of 3:48.24 during the heats of the 4X100m relay at the 25th World Students games in Belgrade on Tuesday morning. Their impressive time bettered the previous record of 3:49.88, which was set at the South African national championships in Durban in August 1999.
Former South African No 1 singles player, Wesley Moodie, has broken into the top 10 world doubles rankings after an excellent run of form on the ATP circuit. The lanky 6’5’ Moodie has formed a formidable partnership with the towering 6’10’ Belgium veteran Dick Norman, and the duo have been in rampant form of late, winning two titles and reaching two finals in their last five tournaments.
To top it off the pair reached the semi-finals of the men’s doubles at Wimbledon last week and their fine run of form has resulted in them being rated the sixth-best doubles combination in world tennis – and this after playing just five tournaments together. The Durban-born Moodie is scheduled to make a return to Davis Cup tennis after a year’s absence, when South Africa pick up racquets against India in a vital World Group play-off in September.