Algiers (Algeria) : South Africa secured the pole position in the gold hunt at the All-Africa Games as their swimmers stirred up a big splash in the pool to capture four gold medals out of six at stake on the first-day.
The South African swimmers capped their impressive performance in the women’s 4×200 metres relay race when the quartet from South Africa led all the way to finish first in 8:28.46 and landed the fourth gold for their delegation Thursday.
“We are not really surprised by our first-day’s performance as we have brought a very strong team here,” said Dominique Dryding, who was South Africa’s third swimmer in the relay race.
“We have set an ambitious target for the games, and for me. I think we will win at least 25 gold from the swimming competition,” she added.
Troyden Prinsloo set the tone for the South African contingent’s campaign as he won the first gold of the games in the men’s 400 metres freestyle with a games record-breaking timing of three minutes 55.29 seconds.
South Africa’s momentum went unchecked in the ensued women’s 100-metre freestyle and men’s 100 metres breaststroke with Melissa Corfe and Vander Burgh taking the cake respectively.
Corfe clocked 57.44 seconds to win the gold before Burgh broke the games’ record with a timing of 1:02.05.
Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry and Kenya’s Jason Dunford stole the limelight temporarily before the South African juggernaut came back to complete their first-day’s gold chase with a strong note in the women’s 4×200 metres relay race.
Coventry powered her way to triumph in the women’s 400 metres medley in 4:39.91 sec, well beyond the reach of South Africa’s Jessica Pengelly, who finished in 4:43.97 sec.
Dunford, who is set to be the first ever Kenyan swimmer to compete in the Olympic Games after qualifying for the next year’s Beijing Olympics, displayed his prowess in the men’s 100 metres butterfly to finish first in 53.40 sec.
South Africa, standing atop with four gold in the medals table, was followed by Egypt and Tunisia, who collected two gold apiece from the judo competitions.
Egypt claimed their first gold through judoka Ramada Mohamed Samah who held off Adjat Olakitan Ayuba of Nigeria by an ippon in the women’s above 78-kg final.
Hesham Mesbah won Egypt’s second gold for the games after beating Algeria’s Amar Benikhlef in the men’s under 90-kg final.
Benikhlef’s countryman Rachida Ouerdane pulled off the first gold for the hosts as she dispatched Senegal’s Gisele Mendy in the women’s under 70-kg final, while Franck Moussima Ewan from Cameroon snatched the men’s under 100-kg gold after beating Senegal’s Bara Ndiaye in the final.
Tunisia bagged the other two judo gold on offer on the first-day of the competition, with Houda Miled and Anis Chedly triumphing respectively in women’s under 78-kg final and men’s over 100-kg final.