The Week that was in SA Sports – Sports Wrap
22 July – The week that was in South African Sports and what’s coming up – by Guy Mortimer
Oscar still falling short
Twenty-two-year-old double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius finished a respectable fourth in the 400m event in Velletri, Italy, on Saturday. The Pretoria-based Pistorius, aptly nicknamed the ‘Blade Runner’ due to his carbon fibre prostheses, was hoping to qualify for next month’s World Athletics Championships in Berlin, but his time of 47.42 sec was 1.87 sec adrift of the difficult 45.55 sec qualifying standard.
Consequently, Pistorius will probably have to wait until 2010 to qualify for a major able-bodied event as there are no more global championships taking place this year. However, he still has till August 3 to make the South African team for Berlin and had the satisfaction of defeating seasoned Mauritian runner Eric Milazar on Saturday – albeit by a mere one hundredth of a second. The race was won by Michael Mathieu of the Bahamas in 46.81 sec …
Phillip still wants to put ‘em up
Although Lovemore ‘The Black Panther’ Ndou, 37, will still be savouring his recent win over namesake Phillip ‘The Time Bomb’ Ndou, 32, the younger fighter is by no means discouraged by the loss and will definitely not be retiring from the sport he loves. Phillip, a former world champion, took a lot of punishment from Lovemore in their International Boxing Organisation (IBO) welterweight title fight at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park last weekend, but nevertheless gave a good account of himself against a very strong opponent, who has faced the best boxing has to offer in a distinguished 14-year professional career.
It was only the fourth time that Phillip has tasted defeat in 36 paid bouts and his performance on the night, where he made his more experienced opponent work every inch for his victory, was encouraging and suggested that he still has a future in the ring. Trainer Welcome Ncita said he would meet with Phillip and business manager Butityi Konki to discuss the fighter’s future. Phillip returned to boxing earlier in the year after a four-year layoff due to a cyst on the brain, which miraculously cleared up late last year.
Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal born Moruthi Mthalane will square off against Mexican dynamo Julio Cesar Miranda for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) flyweight title recently relinquished by Philipino fighter Nonito Donaire who has moved up to the junior bantamweight division to fight for the World Boxing Association (WBA) interim title.
Donaire, who refused to defend his IBF crown against Mthalane, will take on Rafael Concepcion of Colombia in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 15. Mthalane was holding his own against Donaire in their IBF title fight in Las Vegas on November 1 last year, but the fight was stopped in the sixth round after the South African sustained a deep cut over one of his eyes, prompting officials to turn to the score cards and announce the Philippino as the winner. Mirande earnt the right to face Mthalane for the vacant crown by knocking out fellow Mexican Eric Ortiz in the first round of their bout earlier this month.
Shaun wisely calls it quits
Veteran South African climber Sean Wisedale has decided to withdraw from an international expedition to climb the feared K2 peak, the second highest mountain in the world at a daunting 8 611m. Wisedale stumbled upon the remains of a human body while tackling the mountain and this incident, coupled with a similar finding by Wisedale’s Turkish team-mate, Tunc Findik, and the death of Michele Fait, an Italian skier who fell to his death about two and a half weeks ago on K2’s summit, unnerved Wisedale to such an extent that he decided to withdraw from the expedition.
Many climbers consider K2 to be the most difficult mountain in the world to climb and the peak is infamous for claiming the life of one climber for every four who reach its summit. On any given day the “treacherous mountain,” as it is referred to be many climbers, presents challenges that include storms, strong winds, snow, rockslides, crevasses and avalanches with climbers running the risk of suffering physical and mental exhaustion, malnutrition, dehydration, hypothermia, frostbite and even cerebral haemorrhage.
Wisedale was the first South African to reach the seven highest summits on all seven continents and was also the first South African to take on the devilish K2.
Hashim makes merry for Essex
Proteas batsmen Hashim Amla, who also plays for the Nashua Dolphins in South African domestic cricket, has signed for English county side Essex until the end of July and the English franchise must be delighted with their investment after Amla became the highest scoring debutant for the county.
The KwaZulu-Natal native fashioned an excellent 181 runs from 327 balls in a little under seven hours at the crease as he helped Essex grab a most unlikely draw against County Championship Division Two rivals Glamorgan on July 10.
Despite his team trailing their opponents by a massive 315 runs on the first innings, Amla was his usual calm self in his familiar number three position and produced a sterling display of calculated stroke play to help Essex to a respectable 411/6 in their second innings to stave off defeat.
Amla followed up his ton with an unbeaten 81 against Surrey in his next county innings to prove that his big score against Glamorgan wasn’t a fluke and has now scored 292 runs at an average of 97.33 with one century and one half century in just two matches for Essex. Amla has also enjoyed success for his new county in the shorter version of the game, scoring another century, this time as an opening batsman, when making his debut for Essex in the 40-over pro40 competition on July 13.
‘Goose’ just off the pace as Stewart cinks Watson
American Stewart Cink narrowly defeated countrymen Tom Watson to claim his first victory in the 138th British Open at Turnberry, Scotland over the weekend. The 36-year-old Cink defeated the 59-year-old veteran Watson in a playoff after both players had recorded a total of 278 for two under par over the four rounds. It was a remarkable achievement by Watson who was just under the age limit of 60 for the tournament.
South Africans Retief Goosen (280), Ernie Els and Thomas Aiken (both 281) produced some solid golf to finish joint fifth and eighth respectively, but it was Cink who stole the show with a superb display of driving, chipping and putting to edge out Watson in an exciting playoff. Other South Africans in the field included James Kingston (284), Richard Sterne (285) and Branden Grace (287).
Boks face stern test against All Blacks
All eyes will be fixed on Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein on Saturday when the Springboks began their Tri-Nations campaign against New Zealand fresh from an excellent win over Australia over the weekend. The All-Blacks will start as slight favourites over the Boks, but a gigantic tussle is expected between these two fierce rivals with no quarter given or asked for. Centre Wynand Olivier has been recalled to the Springbok camp as cover for Adrian Jacobs who is struggling with a groin injury.
The ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division competition entered its second round and four games were played and decided this past Friday and Saturday. The Sharks scored a comfortable 46-10 win over an ordinary looking Boland outfit at the ABSA Stadium in Durban on Friday with young flyhalf Guy Cronje having a sterling game for the home side. Griquas are making early waves in the competition and followed up their upset win over the Free State Cheetahs the previous week by comfortably defeated newcomers the Leopards 36-11. The result means that Griquas retain their position at the top of the log after two rounds.
The Lions made up for their opening round 13-19 loss to the mighty Blue Bulls by surprising a feisty Cheetahs outfit at the Coca-Cola Park stadium in Johannesburg. The men from the Free State must have thought they had the game in the bag after a good first half in which they outscored their opponents 19-13. However, the Lions roared back in the second stanza, scoring 18 well-taken points to the Cheetahs’ three to run out deserving 31-22 winners. It was a disappointing loss for the Cheetahs who are no under early pressure in the competition, having lost both their games. In the final game of the round the Blue Bulls produced a gutsy performance to outlast a strong and determined Western province outfit 30-22. Although Province enjoyed the lions share of the possession they failed to capitalise on their advantages and ended up loosing a match they should have won. Full credit though to the Bulls though for pulling off the win and making it two wins out of two in the early running.
Third round action on Friday sees the Sharks confront the Bulls in Durban while Western Province take on the Cheetahs in Cape Town. Saturday’s games pit high-flying Griquas against lowly Boland in Kimberley while the Lions will be hoping to sharpen their claws on the Leopards at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Phokeng.
Western Province are the 2009 Coco-Cola under-18 Craven week champions. The boys from the Cape recorded an excellent come from behind win against a strong Free State side to run out 19-17 winners in a pulsating encounter at the Border Rugby Union Stadium in East London. With just 10 minutes remaining on the clock and trailing 14-17, fullback Craig Barry scored the match-winning try for Province. It was a fitting finale to a fantastic tournament with the quality of rugby on display being of a very high standard.
City edge Chiefs in tight affair
English Premiership division side Manchester City defeated a spirited Kaizer Chiefs outfit 1-0 in their Vodacom Challenge showdown at Durban’s Absa Stadium on Tuesday night. City skipper Stephen Ireland scored the only goal of the match late in first half injury time when he steered the ball past Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune after collecting a pass from Kelvin Etuhu. Chiefs tried hard to level matters but were without luck as their live wire midfielder David Mathebula missed two attempts at goal in the 50th minute. Although City did struggle somewhat in this encounter they did well to recover from there disappointing 2-0 defeat to Orlando Pirates last Saturday.
Chiefs play Pirates tomorrow (Thursday, 23 July) at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.