Newsdeck, Sport

Rio 2016, live blog, day six: All the South African action from the Olympics on Thursday

By Daily Maverick Team 11 August 2016

South Africa's rowing teams stole the show on Thursday while the South African Sevens side stumbled over a few hurdles en route to bagging the bronze medal. Here's the blow-by-blow account of how it all went down.

04:59: We’ll be back later for a jam-packed day of action, including athletics which begins with the 800m heats featuring Rynardt van Rensburg and Jacob Rozani from about 15:20.

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04:56: Brad Tandy qualified in last place for the men’s 50m free earlier and Chad le Clos  is through to the men’s 100m fly final after finishing second in his heat. That final is at 3:12 on Saturday morning.

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00:42: Fiji have just done an incredibly emotional team song. Sjoe, it’s hard not to be touched by their story or by Ben Ryan. What. A. Guy. I reckon it’s safe to say that Sevens and the Olympics will be good friends for a long time still to come. For now, though, we bet you farewell. We’ll be back in the wee hours with an update from the swimming. Brad Tandy is in the 50m freestyle and Chad le Clos in the 100m fly. 

If you missed any of the action today, here’s a quick overview: 

It was a day of glorious rowing as the men’s pair of Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling clinched silver, only behind the legendary New Zealand pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond who have not been beaten for nine years. Elsewhere, women’s pair Lee-Ann Persse and Kate Christowitz, lightweight women’s double sculls Kirsten McCann and Ursula Grobler and their mail counterparts James Thompson and John Smith as well as men’s fours David Hunt, Jonathan Smith, Vincent Breet and Jake Green  all finished strongly in their semis to make it into the finals. Those will all take place on Friday from 15:32.

In the golf, Brandon Stone shot an opening 75 while Jaco van Zyl posted a level par 71. And in the sailing Asenathi Jim and Roger Hudson took 15th spot as winds ranged between 15 and 23 knots. In their fourth race they improved by one spot and are now lying 19th out of 26 craft. Leaders with just points are Croatia’s Igor Marenic and Sime Fantela with just four points. –

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00:31: FIJI WIN GOLD! The Sevens World Series champions have blown away the British to seal the deal on their nation’s maiden Olympic medal. 47-7 the score. The second half wasn’t much to shout about, but the job was done and dusted well before the interval. All hail captain Osea Kolinisau, coach Ben Ryan and their mighty Pacific Islanders!

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00:18: Half-time. Fiji 29-0 Great Britain. The British defence has more holes in it than the logic of Heyneke Meyer’s Springbok selection policy. Fiji breeze down the right for a third try, before Leone Nakarawa does exactly the same for the fourth and Semi Ravouvou for the fifth. The men from the Pacific Islands are well on the road to ensuring their nation’s first Olympic medal is a golden one.

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00:10: It’s a bad start for the British as Fiji crash through for two early tries. Deadly when they get going, these fellas. It’s 12-0 half way through the first period. South Africa fans can rejoice in Rasta Rasivhenge refereeing this prestige clash, if you want.

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23:55: Cast in bronze! South Africa have stormed home 54-14 in their finale. It always felt like Japan were running on empty. Speckman and Co. certainly weren’t, as our Rosko cruised over for his hat-trick late in the second half. Which makes you wonder – why didn’t they play like this before?! Anyway, the Blitzboks will share the first ever Rugby Sevens podium with Great Britain and Fiji. But in which order? You’ll find out if you stick with us.

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23:50: The bad news? Cecil Afrika lost his headband. The good news? Its was en route to restoring the Blitzboks’ 14-point lead with a breakaway try. Good old Kwagga Smith returned it to him anyway – and with that added aerodynamic prowess, Afrika zooms away down the left once more to put the game to bed. 35-14. Four minutes to go. 

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23:43: But what’s this nonsense?! Japanese skipper Yusaku Kuwazuru forces his way over before the break, with the conversion helping to half the deficit. Not a problem, though, as Speckman has borrowed the injured Seabelo Senatla’s jet shoes. The dreadlocked stepper powers away down the left to restore some daylight between the sides. And relax. For now…

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23:37: It’s a lightning start from the Blitzboks! Juan de Jongh took less than a minute to allay any nerves with a tidy try. Rosko Speckman followed up with the second and South Africa are looking good for another piece of Olympic hardware. 14-0 as it stands. Watch this space. 

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23:24: Ok, here we go again. Throw all that Blitzbok-related despair out of the window and relish the thought of an Olympic bronze in the inaugural Sevens event. South Africa’s men are unchanged as they take on giant-killing Japan for third place on the podium. The mere mention of the opposition has reduced Heyneke Meyer to a gibbering wreck back home. Kick-off coming just now.

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20:22: Final score, South Africa 5-7 Team GB. Not South Africa’s best effort this tournament really. You’d have hoped that after that loss against Australia in the pool stages yesterday, they’d have gotten this out of their system. It’s something that has often crept in during their World Series campaign… just taking their foot off the gas a bit from time to time. They will now play Japan for bronze.

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20:19: This has been a really tough semi-final and it’s definitely not pretty. With just over a minute to go South Africa somehow manage to win a penalty after Cheslin Kolbe fluffed it after a great offload from Agaba. They use an incredibly complicated move and there’s a forward  pass which results in a scrum. The scrum collapses and we try again…GB have possession and the kick out as the clock runs out…but wait…there’s more! The ref rules that it was kicked out before the hooter went!

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20:11: GB hit back almost immediately in the second half with Dan Norton finding space outwide and stepping his way to put the ball down under the poles. Team GB manage to put their conversion over so pressure right back on the Boks with under five minutes to go.

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20:08: South Africa lead 5-0 at the break, but it’s been a pretty cagey first half. South Africa not quite kicking into the superlative gear that makes them one of the best teams in sevens rugby. They’ve made silly mistakes that could end up costing them the game if England find their fire in the second half.

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19:53: Big blow.

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19:50: Well, it was nice while it lasted for Japan, but Fiji are on a different planet. So slik, so skillfull, so cool. Japan had a man sent off in the second half and Fiji barely looked like they had to put in any effort. That’s them nice and rested for whoever they face in the final. It ends 20-5 coming up: South Africa vs Great Britain.

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19:38: It’s half-time between Fiji and Japan and it’s 10-5 to Fiji.

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19:31: No time to catch your breath. We’re onto the semi-finals in the Sevens. First up: Fiji vs Japan. Then Blitzboks vs Team GB.

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19:30: Le Clos was second on the turn after a steady start. He tried to make up some pace on the second 50m, but wasn’t fast enough to beat Shields from the USA. He ends up being third with a time of 51.75. Phelps was in the next heat and ended in second, qualifying second fastest for the final. Le Clos also qualifies.

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19:10: Today we published a story about some of the most heart-warming stories from the Olympics so far. After Lawrence Brittain won silver for South Africa earlier, we have to include his story, too. He was diagnosed with cancer in October 2014 and after weeks of intensive chemo, returned to competitive rowing at the start of last year. Now he’s a silver medalist. Quite something. 

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18:28: Coming up at  19:28 it’s Chad le Clos in the heats of the 100m fly. Chance to make up for the bummer of the 200m fly.

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18:15: Tandy qualifies for the semis of the 50m free, in 12th overall spot. 

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18:19: Correction from earlier. It was Erasmus swimming first, not Tandy. Tandy has now had a swim and he has finished fourth with 21.94.

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18:14: It’s Erasmus up first in the 50m freestyle heats. It’s a blink and you miss it kinda race. And there’s a lot of splashing from everyone swimming. South Africa’s Erasmus finishes in fourth in his heat. That might be good enough for a semi spot. His time is 22.37. 

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17:56: Hopefully you’ve managed to catch your breath by now. We’re just getting ready for the swimming. First up is Doug Erasmus and Brad Tandy in the 50m freestyle, just after 18:10.

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16:24: 

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16:11: Right. Time to catch our breath with something a little bit more reserved…like golf. South Africa’s Stone is at one over and van Zyl is two over. They’ve not had the best of starts. Marcus Fraser leading and five under. We’re off for a short break and will be back in about 30 minutes to half an hour. There’s some swimming to come and, of course, Sevens.

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15:56: South Africa probably never had a chance of beating New Zealand – they are legends at this stuff and win the gold by nearly a second. However, they did very well to come back and win the silver. They started fast, then drifted behind and caught up again on the last stretch. Was a sprint between South Africa and Italy but the men’s rowing pair of Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling did exceptionally well to bag a silver for South Africa and cap off what has been a splendid afternoon of rowing. 

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15:55: South Africa take a silver! Absolutely incredibly race. Stunning. What an afternoon of rowing it has been for South Africa with the oars in hand.

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15:53: And as we go into the final 500, South Africa pull ahead of GB and Italy. It’s going to be a sprint finish…

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15:53: South Africa still sitting in fourth at the 1500m mark, Team GB and Italy in second and third respectively. New Zealand are going to win this by a country mile.

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15:51: And at the 1000m mark, New Zealand have pulled away from everyone else. South Africa have slipped to fourth behind Italy and GB. Did they start too quickly?

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15:48: At the 500m mark, Keeling and Brittain lead, just. There’s about a .39 second split between them and second-placed Italy. New Zealand have started making up ground as we cross the 500m mark. Australia edging in too..

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15:47: The Italians are off to a flying start, but it’s tight everywhere else. South Africa have also started fast and have soon taken the lead. New Zealand, GB and the Aussies aren’t going full tilt just yet…

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15:46: It’s looking a bit more choppy and a bit more breezy than it was earlier today. South Africa have some stiff competition from the Aussies, GB and New Zealand…

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15:40: Right, then….South Africa’s medal chance in the rowing coming up. Big effort needed from men’s pair Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling.

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14:45: That final is coming up at 15:44, so we have an update from the golf were Jaco van Zyl and Brendon Stone have teed off. Stone is currently -2 and van Zyl on par. The leaders are sitting at -4.

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14:37: South Africa have somehow managed to snatch second place from under the noses of the Americans and the Italians. South Africa end about four seconds behind Australia in the race, but what a regatta Team South Africa is having! All the rowing teams that South Africa sent to the Olympics have a shot at a medal with the first chance coming up this afternoon at 15:44 when men’s pair Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling go for gold.

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14:32: The men’s fours are lagging just a bit behind Australia, the USA and Italy. They need a really big effort here.

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14:30: Fantastic effort from the men’s double sculls team, Norway were leading, but the South Africans started sprinting towards the end and they won the race. South Africa’s rowers have definitely been the most consistent of all the teams representing the country. And it’s onto the men’s fours semifinal.

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14:24: There’s been a slight oversight on our part from the rowing. James Thompson and John Smith are rowing for South Africa in the semi-final of the men’s lightweight double sculls. In a photo finish, the clinched top spot and qualified for the finals!

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14:10: There’s some more rowing to come later. This time it’s the men’s Four in the semi-final. David Hunt, Jonathan Smith, Vincent Breet and Jake Green were the only South African team who had to go into a repechage to make it to the semis, but they have a chance to make up for it now with a good session here. 

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14:08: So it’s the Netherlands, Canada and Ireland who will join South Africa, New Zealand and China in the finals on Friday afternoon. The South African women will fancy their chances…don’t think we’ve seen the bet from them yet.

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14:00 After hitting a crack, China somehow managed to recover to still claim third spot, but it’s the South Africans who win it. What a race that was. After hitting that crack, China’s third spot was at risk as Romania launched a late challenge, but the Chinese were incredibly composed. South Africa’s time is 7:19.09 followed by MacKenzie and Edward from New Zealand with a time of 7:19.27 and China in third with 7:20.94

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13:56: Oh no! China have gotten stuck and they have fallen behind. South Africa ahead.

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13:56: This has been a marvellous bit of rowing from the South Africans. They held back at the start and started to gain ground in the second part of the race. China and New Zealand were both challenging, but it’s the South Africans who lead with the final 500m to go. But only just…

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13:54: China ahead at the first 500m mark, but South Africa are still within their sights. New Zealand are gaining ground, too. We’re at the 1000m mark and South Africa are looking strong. They have just edged ahead of China now!

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13:51: Good start from the South Africa, but it’s China who lead early on. Pushing South Africa hard. These two South Africans are fast starters, but China seem to have other ideas today. Can they keep it up?

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13:50: Coming in the women’s lightweight double sculls semi-final: South Africa’s Kirsten McCann and Ursula Grobler.

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13:49: Denmark, New Zealand and Spain claim the other final spots. All times slower than South Africa’s pair in their semi-final. So there is a real medal chance for the South African women in the pairs final.

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13:39: Great Britain were streets ahead of anyone else right from the start in that race. They won by nearly a boat’s length. USA and South Africa challenged each other all throughout, but in the end, the USA women had more power and South Africa dropped down to third place. Stanning and Glover from  GB won in a time of 7:18.69, Mueller and Luczak from the USA had a time of 7:20.93 and South Africa’s Persse and Christowitz finished in 7:24.03. That’s a tough final come up for the South Africans but they rowed exceptionally well today. They might surprise a few in the final…

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13:36: USA started pushing past South Africa in the latter stages of the race and overtook them with just under 750m to go. With the last 500m ahead, the USA pulled far ahead to go into second.

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13:35: South African women’s rowing pair of Presse and Christowitz pushed USA hard for the next 500m with South Africa starting to push ahead. They are having a really great race. If they can keep this up, they should be set for a spot in the final stage. USA have a bit more power than the South Africans, but this is the Olympics…

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13:30: The South Africans started steadily, but TeamGB is on some other level today. They’ve cruised ahead and lead by almost a boat’s length at the 500m mark. Conditions today look pretty calm, compared to some of the other conditions we’ve seen here. South Africa are neck-in-neck with the USA.

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13:27: Righto, coming up is Lee-Ann Persse and Kate Christowitz in the women’s pairs semi-final.

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12:03: Meanwhile, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Sebastian Coe confirmed the organisation’s intention to challenge the ruling which suspended the monitoring of female athletes with higher than usual levels of testosterone, according to a report on insidethegames.biz.

Coe said:

“We were surprised by the CAS decision, and I think the IOC was too,” said Coe following a meeting of the IAAF Council in Rio on Wednesday.

“We are looking again at this issue and will be talking to CAS at some time over the next year.

His comments after last year, regulations were suspended that required female athletes to take testosterone-lowering medication if their levels were above a pre-determined “legal mark”.

South Africa’s darling of the track, Caster Semenya, is one of the athletes who has testosterone levels above the “normal” mark. However, Coe has previously made it clear that the issue is sensitive and should be treated as such.

“I don’t like to see any athlete in any discipline under sensitive situations being demonised, we are talking about human beings here,” he said last month.

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11:52: Also, this happened. Armenian weightlifter Andranik Karapetyan’s elbow extended while he was trying to perform a clean and jerk while trying to lift 195kg. Do not watch if you are easily freaked by bodies doing painful things.

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10:34: Rio is still asleep – and so should you be if you want to stay up for tonight’s action. We’ll be back from just after 13:00 with updates on the rowing.

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10:25: Here’s what’s coming up today:

We have loads of rowing to make up for after yesterday saw all of it called off due to bad weather, but the big one today is South Africa vs Great Britain in the semi-finals of the Sevens. South Africa is just one win away from a guaranteed gold or silver medal. No pressure, folks. It kicks off at 20:00.

Rowing:

13:30: Women’s Pair, Semi-finals: Lee-Ann Persse and Kate Christowitz
13:50: Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls, Semi-finals: Kirsten McCann and Ursula Grobler
14:30: Men’s Four, Semi-final: David Hunt, Jonathan Smith, Vincent Breet and Jake Green
15:44: Men’s Pair final: Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling

Brandon Stone and Jaco van Zyl also begin their golf challenge today, teeing off at 13:52 and 14:25. Doug Erasmus and Brad Tandy swim in the men’s 50m free at 18:14 and 18:18 and Chad le Clos has a chance to make up for his disappointment in the 200m fly when he swims in the heats of the 100m fly at 19:28. South Africa’s Jacob Maliekal will play in the group stages of the men’s badminton at 2:23 am (Friday) and there’s some more sailing from 18:15.

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10:24: Hello and welcome to the Daily Maverick’s live blog featuring all the South Africans in Olympic action on Thursday.  DM

Photo:  Shaun Keeling and Lawrence Brittain of South Africa celebrate on the podium after winning silver  in the men’s Pair final race of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Rowing events at the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 11 August 2016.  EPA/DIEGO AZUBEL

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