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Rio Olympics 2016: Live blog, day one: Meintjes, Impey in action in cycling road race

There were mixed results for Team South Africa on day one of the Rio Olympics. The rowers (pairs) and Cameron van der Burgh qualified for their respective semis while Louis Meintjes challenged in the road race. Here's the blow-by-blow of how it happened.

20:46: This is where we’re signing off this blog for the day. But don’t worry, we’ll be back in a few hours for the South Africa women’s soccer match against China and van der Burgh’s attempt to qualify for the 100m breaststroke final. Let’s recap the day quickly:

  • Patterson became the first South African male artistic gymnast to participate in the Olympics since 1956. 
  • The men’s rowing pair  Keeling and Brittain qualified for the semifinals.
  • Louis Meintjes tried and tried, but had to settle for seventh in the men’s cycling road race.
  • Cameron van der Burgh qualified for the semis of the 100m breaststroke while rival Adam Peaty broke the world record.
  • The other swimmers flopped a bit, but weren’t realistically expected to make it out of their heats. Myles Brown did set a national record, though.

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20:43 That was quite a race. Even if you only watch cycling once every four years or once a year, it had a little bit of everything. Epic climbs, hectic crashes, brutal cashes and some serious effort from guys who looked completely knackered by the end of it.

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20:40 And it’s gold for Belgium’s Van Avermaet! Their first gold since 1982. Majka finishes with bronze. Meintjes in seventh.

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20:38: Shame, Majka was leading for a long time but his legs looked absolutely knackered. We’re within sight of the finish line now and he’s been overtaken by Van Avermaet and Fugslang.

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20:34: There’s  under 5km to go now and Meintjes looks a bit confused about how to approach the sprint finish. Not his area of expertise, but he’s trying.

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20:27: In the men’s road race, Nibali has crashed and is out. 

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20:24: Adam Peaty has just broken the 100m breaststroke record with an absolutely epic time of 57.55. Van der Burgh is through to the semis and will swim again at 4am SA time (on Sunday morning).

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20:23: While we’re waiting for the swimming, the road race is heading for an epic. The gap between the leaders and the chasing group is  23 seconds 

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20:24: It’s second for van der Burgh. He was leading for most of the race, but was soon overtaken by Brazillian Felipe Franco, who swum exceptionally well. van der Burgh has a time of 59.35 which should still be enough to get him through to the semis.

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20:00: We’ve got  just over 23km to go and both Impey and Meintjes are now in the chasing group, not too far behind the leaders as we head for a climb.

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19:51: Myles Brown’s effort earlier was a new South African record, by the way. Poor lad. Rough to miss out after such an epic swim.

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19:32: So, despite that epic effort from Myles Brown, it wasn’t enough to make it to the final. We’ll be back at 20:00 with an update on the men’s road race (there is just over 40km left) and the big one: Cameron van der Burgh swimming in the men’s 100m breaststroke. He broke the world record and won gold at the 2012 event, but TeamGB’s Adam Peaty has gone on to break his record twice after that…

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19:27: This is quite possibly the funniest thing I have seen all day. The original Tweet, with a picture of the empty rugby stadium, says: After a 92-year wait, the crowds are stampeding through the gates to see rugby once again at the Olympics. This response is everything.

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19:20: Myles Brown has had a cracker in the 400m free! Before this swim his best time for the season was 3:47.96, he finished in second with a time  of 3:45.92. That might just be enough to push him through. We’ll know shortly.

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19:06: Update from the men’s road race via Reuters: Loud blast heard near Olympics cycling course, bomb squad on site and a controlled explosion carried out. There were also reports of stray bullets coming through the roof of the media centre at the equestrian centre. We’ll keep you updated…

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18:42: The big news from the women’s swimming is that Syrian refugee swimmer Yusra Mardini, who nearly drowned while fleeing the conflict in her country, won her 100m fly heat by more than a second. Wasn’t good enough to earn her a spot in the semis, though, but she’s only 18…long career ahead of her and whatever happens, she’s a hero.

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18:30: Confirmation that no SA swimmer has made it through to the 400M IM final. Bit of a downer after the rowers from earlier. We’ll be back with more swimming action at 19:12 when Myles Brown is in action in the men’s 400M freestyle. There’s also the road race to keep an eye on, of course. Impey is still pushing.

We’ll be back with more swimming action at 19:12 when Myles Brown is in action in the men’s 400M freestyle. There’s also the road race to keep an eye on, of course. Impey is still pushing.

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18:26: Sebastien Rousseau had a bit of a let down in his heat. He was up against some of the world’s best 400M IM swimmers, but finishes with a time of 4:18.72 – it’s last in the heat and probably not good enough for a final spot.

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18:13 Meyer was in third place for much of the race, but started to fall behind when switching to breaststroke. Travis Mahoney from Australia won the race. Meyer finished fifth overall with a time of 4:18.13. Probably won’t be enough to make it into the final. South Africa have another hopeful – Sebastien Rousseau – who is swimming in the next few minutes.

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18:00: Ryan Patterson, South Africa’s only representative in the artistic gymnastics, has placed 16th overall. Right now, it’s all about the action the pool, though.

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17:50: We’ve just spotted Daryl Impey for the first time in the road race. He’s n the main peloton. Just over 100km to go in the race. Froome has had a bike change. And gotten a food bag. The commentators say it was probably planned. “It looked relaxed”. Just under 100km to go now.

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17:13: There’s quite a bit of action in the pool this evening and this is how South Africa’s swimmers stack up against the rest of the world.

Myles Brown is in the 400m freestyle and his season best time is 3:47.96, some way behind Australia’s Mack Horton who tops the list at 03:41:65.

There’s also a 400m Individual Medley where Sebastien Rousseau and Michael Meyer will swim. The are just a touch off the pace of the world’s best time for the 2016 season (04:08.85) with times of 4:14.75 and 4:15.71 respectively. And last but not least,

Cameron van der Burgh will be in action in the 100m breaststroke. His season best time of 58.49 is eye-wateringly close to Great Britain’s Adam Peaty who clocked 58.36. You can see how all world-leading times compare in this piece: Rio 2016: World leading times vs world records in the Olympic swimming season

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16:19: We’re taking a short break for now, but will be back from about 18:00 with all the updates from the swimming and to check into the men’s road race.

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16:13: Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that  all Russian athletes banned from Paralympics. You can check out that story here.

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16:09: In the gymnastics centre,  Ryan Patterson  scored a 14.300 in the floor exercise, to place third in subdivision 1 of the men’s qualifying. 

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16:07: Away from the South African stuff, we’ve had our first gold medal. Virginia Thrasher, a 19-year old American, has clinched hold int he women’s 10m air rifle. No, you can’t make jokes about Americans and guns. 

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15:52 The conditions are pretty tough out there. It’s breezy and the water is choppy, but South Africa’s Keeling and Brittain and did a good job in the men’s pair. They were overtaken by the Aussies just after the 500m mark and eventually qualified for the semi-finals in second place with a time of 6.41.42. Australia’s time was 6.40. 

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15:46 The South Africans are off in rowing in the men’s pairs. They’re leading…

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15:40: Patterson is the first South African male artistic gymnast to participate in the Olympics since 1956. e lives in the United States and started competing when he was just seven years old (he’s now 22). This gymnastics stuff takes some serious dedication.

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15:34: South African gymnast Ryan Patterson is about to get fancy in the artistic gymnastics. If, like the majority of the world’s population, you only watch gymnastics once every four years, artistic gymnastics is where folks pose on things like the rings and bars.

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15:12: In the cycling road race, Netherlands’ Tom Dumoulin has had to retire. From the race, that is, not from cycling. Although, that would be quite an exit. Dumoulin had a fractured wrist before the race started and thought he could ride through the pain, but has opted out to focus on the time trial later this week instead.

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15:02 No vuvuzelas in sight.

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14:54: Meanwhile, here’s another look at the rowing venue.  The women singles are in action and the front-on camera shots makes the water look very choppy. It’s enough to make you seasick and exhausted just looking at it.

  Alan Campbell of Great Britain in action during the men's Single Sculls heats of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Rowing events at the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 06 August 2016. EPA/FRANCK ROBICHON

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14:45 Here are South Africa’s two men’s road race medal hopefuls. It’s going to be a long slog out there. Since we’re all apparently obsessed with commenting on kits, this one is a bit of Jamaica bobsleigh team inspired, no?

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14:26: The Road race is just about to get underway and we’ll keep you updated as things progress. It takes about five hours for the cyclist to complete the 256.5km course so don’t wait with bated breath for a result. There’s plenty to keep you going this afternoon, including the rowing and women’s sevens. South Africa’s team is, of course, not present at the women’s sevens, despite qualifying through the continental route. It wasn’t good enough for Sascoc….

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13:56: See, we told you it’s pretty.

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13:42: We’ve just gotten things underway with some rowing. The venue is absolutely stunning and South Africa has competitors in the men’s pairs,  lightweight double sculls, men’s fours and women’s lightweight double sculls. We’re still on the singles action.

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13:22: We’re about an hour away from the road race kicking off and it’s going to be a tough one. Pundits are saying that there has been “no course this tough at the Olympics in recent memory”. There are some tough climbs early in the race. That’ll be a challenge for Tour de France winner Chris Froome. Of South Africa’s two competitors – Louis Meintjes and Daryl Impey –  the former is the better climber and Meintjes was second best young cyclist at this year’s Le Tour.

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13:03: While we wait for the action to begin over in Rio, South Africans have found something to complain about. The issue? The team tracksuits. Folks are not impressed. But we just have to nitpick, Meaghen, sorry, Nigeria also rocked the trackies. Anyway, it’s not a fashion show. We’re not saying those tracksuits didn’t look cheap, but you know…if you want to get something off your chest, tracksuit-related or otherwise, email: [email protected]

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12:08: Medal prospect Wayde van Niekerk is doing well at winning friends and influencing people and he’s not even hit the track. Serena Williams and Sonny Bill Williams have all lined up to have their pictures taken with him.

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12:05: If at any point during the games you feel the need to get something off your chest, you can Tweet @mspr1nt or email [email protected] 

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10:06: Here’s an interesting little nugget of info for you. There will be lifeguards at all the Olympic swimming events:

“It is a Brazilian law that any public pool over a certain size has to have lifeguards,” Ricardo Prado, the sport manager for aquatics, told Reuters. “We wish we didn’t have them either [at the Games] but we have to have them.”

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10:04: We’re still a little way away from the action starting (there’s rugby to watch first). But if you’re wondering which South Africans are competing today, we’ve got this very useful guide. We’ve also got some pictures from the opening ceremony here.

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01:55: At last night’s opening ceremony, Serena Williams got a selfie with South Africa’s flag bearer Wayde van Niekerk.

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And here he is carrying the flag…

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01:45 In the meantime, to get you in the mood, here is some reading:

Before she even set foot in Rio, Caster Semenya had already been flung into the media spotlight. As the science around how to define sex and what advantage elevated T levels actually have continues to rage on, Semenya’s resolve can only be admired, read Antoinette Muller’s Op-Ed on why the Queen of the 800m will always be South Africa’s darling.

We’ve also taken a look at a bunch of world and Olympic records and compared them with the best times in the 2016 season. Here are those piece for track events, field events and swimming.

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00:55 News from before the opening ceremony is that an unnamed Greek athlete has tested positive for a banned substance and has been given the boot.

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AmaGlugGlug and Baby Banyana have already kicked off their campaigns. Banayana lost their opener to Sweden thanks to a goalkeeping blunder. AmaGlugGlug, however, valiantly held on for a draw against the hosts Brazil. And South Africa were playing with just ten men. Have Samba that!

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00:05 Hello and welcome to the Daily Maverick’s live Olympics blog. We’ll post updates here throughout the day. The key events coming up on Saturday are:

Men’s road race from 14:30: Louis Meintjes joins Daryl Impey and Tour de France winner Chris Froome. Froome, of course, is not South African, but we’ll claim him anyway.

Swimming heats from 18:00: Cameron van der Burgh launches his defence of the 100m breaststroke title he claimed in London four years ago. Myles Brown goes in the 400m freestyle, as do Michael Meyer and Sebastien Rousseau in the 400m individual medley.

Also up today Ryan Patterson takes part in a gymnastics qualifier at 15:25, there’s plenty of rowing from 13:25 and the South African women’s team is playing China at 23:50.

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