Sports Wrap – The week that was in South African Sports
The week that was in South African Sports and whats coming up – by Guy Mortimer
Athletics – South African 1500m runner Johan Cronje posted an impressive time of 3 min 36.74 sec to finish seventh at the second edition of the prestigious international meeting in Tangier, Morocco, on Sunday. American Olympic sensation Bernard Lagat won the race in 3 min 32.56 sec.
Another South African, Ofentse Mogawane, finished a credible third in the 400m event when he posted a time of 46.81 sec. Mogawane is still trying to achieve the qualifying mark of 45.55 sec for the upcoming World Championships in Berlin, Germany next month. Cronje, on the other hand, has already qualified for the 1500m event in Berlin …
Meanwhile, in Greece on Monday, former world junior 400m hurdles champion LJ van Zyl posted a superb time of 48.18 sec to finish second behind Isa Phillips of Jamaica who triumphed in an very quick 48.09 sec. The Pretoria native recorded his fastest time of the year and narrowly missed out by a mere 0.02 sec of recording his best ever time. Van Zyl, who has already qualified for Berlin, is looking like a real threat to the competition in Germany and hopes are high that he will be able to being back a medal for his country.
In another outstanding performance by a South African athlete, this time at the Lappeenranta Elite Athletics Games in Finland on Sunday evening, long jumper Khotso Mokoena won his event in fine style with a jump of 8.24m to oust Finnish star Tommy Evila by 23cm. Fellow South African Ockert Cilliers also produced a note worthy performance by winning won the 400m hurdles in 50.08 sec.
Boxing – Three International Boxing Organisation (IBO) world championship title fights were decided on Saturday at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, Gauteng and the pick of the bunch was an absolute thriller between 32-year-old Phillip ‘The Time Bomb’ Ndou and his namesake Lovemore ‘The Black Panther’ Ndou for the welterweight title. The scheduled 12 rounder, an all South African affair, went the full distance with the 37-year-old Lovemore prevailing by a unanimous points decision in a real war which saw both boxers exchange punches with intense ferocity.
In the first title bout of the evening, Simphiwe ‘V12’ Vetyeka won a unanimous points decision over Filipino fighter Eric ‘The Maverick’ Barcelona in a scrappy fight for the bantamweight championship. The 28-year-old fighter from Duncan Village in the Eastern Cape held to many guns for the 27-year-old Barcelona, whose wild flurries failed to impress the judges. Vetyeka dedicated his win to former president Nelson Mandela and had nothing but praise for his rugged opponent who, to his credit, never gave up trying.
In the third and final title bout of the evening, talented Thomas ‘Tommy Gun’ Oosthuizen retained his unbeaten record and captured the Youth Light-Heavyweight championship (for fighters under 24) when he scored a split decision points victory over the hard punching Jared ‘The Storm’ Lovett in another all South African match up over 10 rounds. The 22-year Oosthuizen utilised his height and reach advantage and superior boxing skills to frustrate the brawling Lovett (also 22), who often resorted to illegal tactics like hitting behind the head to try and even matters. Ultimately though, it was to no avail as Oosthuizen got the nod on two of three judges’ scorecards to secure the win.
Cricket – The International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy tournament will be held on these shores in September and Cricket South Africa (CSA) have already named a provisional squad of 20 players to commence duty for the Proteas. Hashim Amla, Charl Langeveldt, Makhaya Ntini, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Vaughn van Jaarsveld have all been added to the squad that represented South Africa at the ICC World Twenty20 in England in June. However, the squad will be cut to a final line-up of 15 players before the start of the tournament.
The squad is as follows: Graeme Smith (capt), Johan Botha (vice-capt), Yusuf Abdulla, Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis, Charl Langeveldt, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Makhaya Ntini, Justin Ontong, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Roelof van der Merwe and Vaughn van Jaarsveld.
Motorsport – The fifth round of the Sasol SA Rally Championships saw Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries claim their third win of the season and extend their championship lead to 14 points over fierce rivals Johnny Gemmell and Peter Marsh (S2000 Castrol Toyota Auris), who finished fourth overall in the Volkswagen Rally which ended in the Eastern Cape on Saturday. Fekken and Arries steered their S2000 BP Volkswagen Polo to a commanding 59 sec win with team-mates Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson and Jan Habig and Douglas Judd finishing second and third respectively to ensure a perfect top three finish for the BP Volkswagen team.
Fekken and Arries lead the championship with 90 points, closely followed by Gemmell and Marsh and Habig and Judd on 84 and 75 points respectively. The next round of the championship is the Osram Rally from 21-22 August.
In motorcross action, 20-year-old South African rider Shannon Terreblanche achieved tenth position overall in the fourth round of the German ADAC Motocross Masters series at Ried am Innkreis in Austria on Sunday. Terreblanche posted the fifth-fastest qualifying time on his Sturm Kawasaki, but accidents in both heats saw him having to fight his way from the back of the field to get amongst the points.
Rugby – The first round of the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division produced some exciting action, not to mention a few surprises, when a pumped up Western Province defeated defending champions the Natal Sharks 29-15 at a soggy Newlands in Cape Town while the Free State Cheetahs were upset 28-18 by a determined Griquas outfit at Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein.
The Sharks were never allowed to get into their stride against Province and were outscored by two tries to nil in an entertaining match. Flyhalf Willem de Waal had an excellent game for the home side, notching up 19 points with his accurate goal kicking. The match up between Griquas and the Cheetahs was a tense affair but the visitors fully deserved their victory, outscoring their opponents by four tries to two and on this form cannot be taken lightly by any team.
In other results, the Blue Bulls edged the Lions 19-13 at Loftus Versveld in Pretoria while the men from the Boland accounted for the Leopards 26-18 at the Boland Stadium in Wellington. The results mean that Griquas take an early lead in the competition with Western Province, Boland and the Bulls in second, third and fourth positions respectively.
This weekend’s action sees the Sharks take on Boland at the Absa Stadium in Durban while the Cheetahs face the Lions at the Coca-Cola Park Stadium in Johannesburg. In other games, Griquas square off against the Leopards in Kimberley while the Bulls tackle Western Province in Pretoria.
Soccer – Kaizer Chiefs held Iran to a goalless draw in a friendly held at Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein on Saturday. Although Chiefs tried hard to break through the Iranians’ well-organised defence they were unsuccessful and had to settle for the draw, which was perhaps an accurate reflection of proceedings.
Despite not being able to secure a victory, Chiefs coach Vladimer Vermezovic will be happy with the commitment demonstrated by his players and his team’s result will bode well for the Amakhosi’s upcoming clash against Manchester City on Tuesday, July 21 in a Vodacom Challenge match in Durban.
Swimming – Leone Vorster continued her excellent run of form when she captured a bronze medal in the 400m freestyle at the World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia on Saturday evening. The Limpopo star, who holds the national 200m freestyle record, recorded a time of 4 min 13.18 sec, which was good enough for third position and South Africa’s first swimming medal at the event since 1999.
Tennis – The SA Open staged at Montecasino earlier in the year was a resounding success, attracting top international players of the calibre of Frenchman Jo-Wilfied Tsonga and Spainard David Ferrer, and South African Tennis Association (Sata) CEO Ian Smith plans to keep it that way. The tennis boss recently returned from London where he has been holding talks with ATP tournament directors aimed at securing players for next year’s event.
Although no big names have been signed as yet, Smith is hoping to organise an even better field for the 2010 tournament. We’ll have to wait and see if he manages to come up with the goods, but I’m one journo who will be holding thumbs that he gets it right because we’ll be in for a cracking good tournament if he does.
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