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Posted on: Wednesday, 5 August 2009

South African Sports Wrap – 5th August

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5 August 2009 – This week in South African Sports – Guy Mortimer reports on what’s been happening this past week and what’s coming up!

Caster Semenya

Caster Semenya

ASA announce crack squad for Berlin
Athletics South Africa (ASA) on Tuesday announced a team of 25 men and six women for the IAAF World Championships in Berlin later this month. The team includes top athletes such as 800m runner Caster Semenya (pictured), LJ van Zyl, who has been sensational in the 400m hurdles this year, 1500m competitor Johan Cronje, 3000m steeplechaser Ruben Ramolefi, javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen, 110m hurdler Lehann Fourie and, of course, Beijing Olympic long jump silver medallist Khotso Mokoena. The team attended a training camp in Potsdam in July and have been sharpening their skills at another venue in Neubrandenburg. All the athletes will be competing today at a meeting in Spandau to determine their fitness levels before the World Champs …

Isaac sends Delvin packing in Connecticut
South African fighter, Isaac ‘The Angel’ Hlatshwayo (pictured right), captured the vacant International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight title when he out pointed Delvin Rodriguez of the Dominican Republic in Uncasville, Connecticut over the weekend. It was the second meeting between the pair, who fought to a controversial draw at Emperor’s Palace in Kempton Park in November last year.

Isaac Hlatshwayo

Isaac Hlatshwayo

In an exciting battle where the action ebbed and flowed, Hlatshwayo prevailed by scores of 116-113, 116-112 and 113-115 to win a split decision over the always-dangerous Rodriguez whose record fell to 24-3-2 with 14 KO’s after this loss. With the win the 31-year-old Hlatshwayo, who hails from Soweto in Gauteng, improved his record to 29-1-1 with 10 wins via the short route and now puts himself in line for bouts against some of the best fighters in the world, including the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey.

Meanwhile, in Johannesburg on Friday night, Mzonke ‘Rose of Khayelitsha’ Fana became the mandatory challenger for the IBF junior lightweight title when he demolished South African junior lightweight champion Jasper Seroka. The 35-year-old Fana used his sharp left jab to penetrate the game Seroka’s defences and then opened up with an arsenal of power punches forcing American referee Wayne Kelly to step and stop the fight at 1 min 39 secs of the sixth round.

The win helped Fana improve his record to 29-4 with 12 KO’s while Seroke dropped to 20-2 with 9 wins inside the distance. More importantly though, Fana earned the right to face the winner of the IBF junior lightweight title fight between South African Malcom Klassen (the defending champion) and American challenger Robert Guerrero who clash in Houston, Texas on August 22.

In the main supporting bout, Kaizer Mabuza retained the SA junior welterweight title when he stopped Thulani Mkhwanazi in three one sided rounds. Mabuza knocked down Mkhwanazi four times prompting referee Thabo Spampool to call a halt to proceedings at 2 min 27 secs of the round. The result saw Mabuza improve his record to 21-6-3 with 13 KO’s while Mkhwanazi dropped to 10-7-1 with five wins via the short route.

The SA bantamweight title was up for grabs at the Orient Theatre in East London on Sunday afternoon and Klaas Mboyane and Nkqubela put on a great show for the fans with the less fancied Mboyane prevailing by an 11th round TKO in an action packed fight that could have gone either way. In upcoming local fight action, three World Boxing Foundation (WBF) title fights will be decided in Bloemfontein on Friday evening with South Africans William Gare, Mlungisi Dlamini and Bongani Mwelase all squaring off against international opponents. Gare will take on Rigoberto Alvarez for the super middleweight title while Dlamini and Mwelase clash with Francisco Lorenzo and Attila Kovacs for the lightweight and junior middleweight titles respectively.

Martin van Jaarsveld

Martin van Jaarsveld

Van Jaarsveld to stay at Kent
Former Proteas player and current Nashua Titans batsman Martin van Jaarsveld (pictured) has extended his contract with English county side Kent until 2012. The 35-year-old middle order batsmen signed with Kent in 2005 and has enjoyed a happy and successful period with the county side, so much so that he has rejected offers from other county sides. Van Jaarsveld is having another great season for Kent and is their leading run scorer in the four-day and Twenty20 competitions and second in limited overs cricket. The right-handed batsmen played in nine tests and 11 one-day internationals for the Proteas.

It’s two in a row for Boks as Morné has a blinder
Springbok and Blue Bulls flyhalf Morné Steyn, who had a solid game last weekend for the Boks against the touring All Blacks, had a fantastic one this Saturday when he scored all his teams points against the men from the ‘Land of the long white cloud’ in another bruising Tri-Nations encounter between these two great rugby playing nations.

John Smit

John Smit

Steyn, who hardly put a foot wrong the entire match, scored an amazing 31 points courtesy of eight penalties, a try and a conversion to secure a convincing 31-19 win for the Boks at the Absa Stadium in Durban. However, Steyn, ever the perfectionist, was not fully satisfied with his performance having expressed his displeasure at missing the last kick of the match (a relatively easy 40m penalty), which would have made his tally for the match an unbelievable 34 points. Nevertheless, Steyn’s haul was more than good enough two set two new Tri-Nations records. The 25-year-old kicking sensation bettered Andrew Mehrtens’ 10-year-old record of 29 points against Australia for the highest points total in a Tri-Nations match and Steyn’s haul was also the most number of points scored by an individual against the All Blacks.

The Bok victory was set-up by another dominant display by their incredibly powerful pack of forwards with prop Beast Mtawarira and lock Bakkies Botha having outstanding games for the men in ‘green and gold’. Scrumhalf Fourie du Preez and fullback Francois Steyn also had excellent games for the Boks with du Preez setting up Morné Steyn’s try after he snatched the ball from an All Black scrum and fed Steyn who sauntered through a huge gap to score what will probably be one of his easiest ties in a Springbok jersey.

The All Blacks, just as they did last weekend, never gave up trying and responded with a 12th minute try from lock Isaac Ross and three penalties and a conversion from flyhalf Stephen Donald. Replacement flyhalf Luke McAlister also kicked a penalty for the All Blacks. The Boks’ next Tri-Nations fixture is against Australia at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday and, after their impressive back-to-back wins against the All Blacks, it would take a brave man to bet against the Boks notching up their third consecutive Tri-Nations win. Bok coach Peter De Villiers and captain John Smit (pictured) must be happy men while the same cannot be said of their New Zealand counter parts Graham Henry and Richie McCaw, who must be significantly concerned following two straight losses to their traditional rivals.

Rory Kockott

Rory Kockott

Griquas continue excellent form against Lions
High-flying GWK Griquas contain to confound the experts in this year’s Absa Currie Cup competition when they defeated a spirited Xerox Lions outfit 23-19 at the Coca-Cola Park Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday evening. Griquas were full value for their win having led 20-7 at half time and although the Lions fought back gamely, they weren’t able to close the gap against their determined opponents.

Griquas retained their lead at the top of the Currie Cup standings with this win and must be considered early season favourite’s to lift the trophy this season. Their next match is against Western Province (who thrashed the hapless Platinum Leopards 48-7 at Newlands in another fourth round match) at GWK Park in Kimberley on Friday evening and this clash should prove to be a most interesting encounter. Province lost in Kimberley last year to a kick on the full-time siren and another win for Griquas should strike fear into the hearts of all and sundry in the competition.

The Lions travel to Wellington on Friday to face the Boland Cavaliers and must be considered favourites to come away with a win after the Bolanders were trounced 50-18 by the mighty Blue Bulls in Pretoria. The men in blue square off against the winless Free State Cheetahs at Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein on Friday.

The Cheetahs slumped to a 21-12 defeat at the hands of the Sharks at a wet and icy cold Vodacom Park in another Friday evening encounter and must now be very alarmed after suffering their fourth consecutive loss in this year’s competition. The Sharks’ win was built around a solid display by their forwards and the boot of scrumhalf Rory Kockott (pictured closer to the camera) who scored 18 points. The Sharks will face the Leopards at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Phokeng on Friday and a big win for the KwaZulu-Natalians must surely be on the cards.

Dillon Sheppard

Dillon Sheppard

Bucs edge Stars to retain Telkom Cup
Orlando Pirates are once again Telkom Charity Cup Winners after they beat Platinum Stars 4-2 on penalties after both teams were deadlocked at 1-1 after full-time in the final played in miserable weather at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on Saturday night. It was Stars who took the early lead when their newly signed Japanese midfielder Norikazu Murayama hit the back of the Bucs net after latching onto an intelligent through ball from Dillon Sheppard (pictured right). Rooi Mahumutsa levelled matters in the 68th minute when he slotted home a hotly disputed penalty that pushed the game into extra time and an inevitable penalty shoot-out. Bucs coach Ruud Krol was happy with his teams performance as he was fielding a virtually second string side against Stars.

Kaizer Chiefs defeated BidVest Wits 3-1 in an MTN 8 quarter-final clash yesterday evening courtesy of goals from Nkosinathi Nhleko (3rd minute), David Mathebula (71st minute) and Knowledge Musona (90th minute) with Mark Haskins pulling one back for Chiefs in the 42nd minute. In the other quarter-final last night Amazulu advanced to the semi-finals at the expense of a game Supersport United with a 4-3 win on penalties after the match ended 1-1 after 90 min and 2-2 after 120 min. Orlando Pirates play Ajax Cape Town at Coca-Cola Park tonight in another quarter-final clash while Free State Stars face up to the challenge of Golden Arrows at the Charles Mopeli Stadium in the final quarter-final.

In upcoming Absa Premiership action, Maritzburg United take on Supersport United in an interesting clash at Woodburn Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Friday while weekend fixtures are as follows:

Saturday
Moroka Swallows  vs  Golden Arrows – Dobsonville Stadium: 3pm
Jomo Cosmos vs Platinum Stars – Germiston Stadium: 3pm
Kaizer Chiefs vs Santos – Orlando Stadium: 8.15pm
Mamelodi Sundowns vs Black Aces – Super Stadium: 8.15pm

Sunday
AmaZulu vs Bidvest Wits – Chatsworth Stadium: 3pm
Bloem Celtic vs Free State Stars – Seisa Ramabodu  Stadium: 3pm
Ajax Cape Town vs Orlando Pirates – Newlands Stadium: 3pm

Gerhard Zandberg

Gerhard Zandberg

Gerhard does SA proud in Rome
Gerhard Zandberg (pictured) produced a scintillating performance in the 50m backstroke finals at the 13th Fina World Swimming Championships in Rome on Sunday when he captured a bronze medal in an excellent time of 23.34 sec.  The 26-year-old South African improved his African record by 1.24 sec and helped his team to a medal haul of four (three bronze and one gold) in the championships.

The South African finished in 14th position overall on the medals table and broke an astonishing 21 African records along the way.

Zandberg will be returning to South Africa for the course championships at the Jolliffe Pool in Pietermaritzburg on Friday.

John-Laffnie de Jager

John-Laffnie de Jager

De Jager once again named Coach of the Year
South Africa’s non-playing Davis Cup Captain John-Laffnie de Jager (pictured) was once again named the World TeamTennis (WTT) Coach of the Year. This is the second time De Jager has earned Coach of the Year honours as he won the award in 2007, his first season as coach of the Springfield Lasers who were runners-up in the Advanta World TeamTennis finals played on Sunday. The Lasers five-member team consists of De Jager as coach, South African Davis Cup campaigner Raven Klaasen, ex South African player Liezel Huber, Martin Damm of the Czech Republic and American Vania King.

De Jager’s immediate focus will be on the vital upcoming Davis Cup tie against India at the Ellis Park Arena from 18 to 20 September. A South African victory will guarantee the country’s return to the elite Davis Cup in over a decade. The South African Tennis Association and De Jager will announce the preliminary squad before the final team is made public.

Left Hook or Captain Hook?
While searching the Net for a photograph of Isaac Hlatshwayo (see Isaac sends Delvin packing in Connecticut story) I stumbled across a peculiar photograph of legendary multiple world boxing champion Roy Jones Junior (pictured left) dressed up in a pirate costume (of all things) at a press conference to promote his upcoming bout against former IBF super-middleweight champion Jeff ‘Left Hook’ Lacy. I’m not quite sure if Mr Jones is undergoing some sort of a mid-life crisis that he feels the need to dress up as a Captain Jack Sparrow (or is it Captain Hook?) to help promote his fights these days. Weird, but I guess that’s the crazy and often bizarre world of boxing for you. The 40-year-old Jones will do battle with 32-year-old fellow American Lacy for the WBO NABO light-heavyweight title at the Gulf Coast Arena, Biloxi, Mississippi, United States on Saturday, 15 August.

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