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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bumper week for South African Sports!

As is normally the case in the sporting world, there are too many events to count and always keep tabs on. And when our interests are as wide and deep as ours here at the Science of Sport, sometimes things slip under the radar as we cannot cover all sports all the time. However, we will always recognize South African sporting achievements, and this week was quite something for SA sports.

The world championships of sailing (ISAF Worlds) has just wrapped up in Cascais, Portugal. It was a multi-faceted event with different types of boats sailing against only each other, that is, boats competed within their classes. It is a big deal because although each class has its own world champs each year, the ISAF Worlds are held only every four years, so it is kind of the Olympics of sailing where the best of the best compete against one another. South Africa had several entries, and what follows are the details of all of them.

In the women's double-handed dinghy class (470's), Dale Rae and Tiffany Baring-Gould competed in what was a very competitive class and fleet. They struggled and finished 60th, but were extremely consistent and cracked the top 25 four times out of the ten races.

Mark Sadler and David Rae competed in the men's skiff class (49er, which refers to the surface area of the sails). These are small and extremely fast boats due to their large sail area. This was a super competitive fleet. Sadler and Rae finished 64th out of 81 boats, but the important thing about this team is that they both spent the past four years sailing on South Africa's America's Cup boat Shosholoza, Mark as the skipper and David as the main sail trimmer. These guys had only a couple of months to jump into their new boat and get competitive, and that is a big ask for anyone---even guys like these who are at the top of their game.

In the women's keel boat class, the Yngling (I have no idea where they got this name and what it means!), Dominique Provoyeur, Penny Alison, and Kim Rew are Team Isigungu (left) and comprised the South African entry. Out of 35 boats these ladies finished 12th, which is pretty impressive, but more importantly this result qualified them for the Beijing Summer games in 2008! This keeps alive a streak of South African sailors who have qualified for the Olympic Games dating back to 1992. You can read all about their team at their website here.
Also in sailing accomplishments for South Africans is Gareth Blanckenberg. Gareth won the Laser class regatta at the All African Games (26 July to 4 Aug in Algeria) and in doing so became the reigning African Champion. Gareth previously represented South Africa in the Sydney and Athens Olympic Games.

Finally, Robbie Hunter, a South African cyclist on the South African entry Barloworld won Stage 11 in the Tour de France. Barloworld is a wild card entry this year, and they have been proving their merit lately. One of their Colombian riders, Mauricio Soler, won Stage 9 on Tuesday. Hunter consistently has been in the hunt for a stage win, finishing second earlier in the tour and beating Thor Hushovd in the process. The win was the first by a South African in the tour, and places Hunter firmly in the chase for the green jersey as he is just 11 points off Boonen's 160 pts and just ahead of Erik Zabel's 144 points.

So there you have it---a quick wrap up of South African sporting achievements. Well done to all these athletes, and best of luck to all of them from us here at the Science of Sport!

R & J


alan sleath said...

Well done to Robbie his determination and persistence has
now reaped the benefits.