Gold Coast — South African lightning struck Gold Coast several times on an incredible Monday night‚ with Akani Simbine delivering the last of the blows as he won the 100m crown.
Four golds‚ four silvers and a bronze — eight of them coming from speedsters on the track and in the pool — lifted SA to fifth on the Commonwealth medals table.
Simbine finally bagged the first major medal of his career as raced to victory in the 100m at the Carrara stadium with Henricho Bruintjies taking silver behind him to leave Jamaica’s former world champion‚ Yohan Blake‚ battling for bronze.
Simbine admitted afterwards it was a monkey off his back.
“It’s a medal I knew I could do and I could get … it’s just getting my mind to do it and now I’ve gotten my first international medal‚ my first international title‚ and now it’s just building on that momentum going for more international medals.”
Simbine said he couldn’t remember anything before the 60m mark.
“Yohan‚ I thought he was going to kick‚ but he didn’t. And then I just saw myself and I literally just went ‘okay‚ I just won this race’‚ and I put my hand up.”
Bruintjies‚ in the lane outside Simbine‚ said his game plan was to pursue his compatriot.
“I told him ‘I know you’re going to go out fast and I know you’re going to go for the podium‚ so you have to take me too’.
“So literally my whole race was Akani‚ Akani. I was just chasing him because I knew if I chase him‚ I’m going to be on the podium.”
They’ll next be in action in the 4x100m relay later in the week. “I want to take home two golds‚” Simbine said with a smile.
SA’s swimmers delivered three golds‚ and the most sensational of them being Cameron van der Burgh’s unexpected triumph in the 50m breaststroke.
The veteran performed the impossible as he downed indomitable Englishman Adam Peaty to win his third consecutive Games 50m breaststroke crown.
Peaty hadn’t been beaten since Van der Burgh edged him by 0.02sec at the previous Commonwealth showpiece in Glasgow.
Since then the South African has had to play second fiddle to him at two world championships and the 2016 Olympics‚ but on Monday the old warhorse reclaimed his old turf as he touched first in 26.58.
Peaty‚ who had swum a 26.49 Games record in the semifinals‚ was second in 26.62.
Le Clos‚ who won his third gold medal of Gold Coast in the 100m butterfly‚ had become only the second man in history — the first since 1974 — to win three Games titles in the same event in the 200m butterfly.
Now Van der Burgh‚ who turns 30 next month‚ has added his name to that list.
“To be able to come through the years and be able to finish on such a high is really special. Adam and I had a really tough rivalry.
“He obviously had the upper hand the last couple of years so to get on top of the podium and see my flag up there and my national anthem being played is going to be‚ when I look back on my career‚ one of the highlights.”
Tatjana Schoenmaker added the 100m breaststroke crown to her 200m gold‚ clocking 1min 06.41sec to break the last of Penny Heyns’s African marks in an Olympic-sized pool.
The usually reserved 20-year-old was emotional.
“This 100 was amazing. I didn’t think I would ever medal in the 100.”
And Le Clos took his 16th career Games medal by winning the 100m ’fly in a 50.65 championship record.
That podium finish brought him level with Australian Susie O’Neill as the most decorated Games swimmer of all time‚ only two short of the all-time record of 18‚ shared by two shooters.
Dyan Buis and Charl du Toit took silver and bronze in the T38 100m final‚ with Du Toit breaking his world record in the more restrictive T37 class.
Christian Sadie took silver in the S7 50m freestyle.
The women’s four lawn bowlers battled bravely but had to settle for silver after losing in the final to world champions Australia.
And Caster Semenya will lead SA’s charge for gold on Tuesday as she competes in a 1500m final (2.04pm) missing the type of firepower she had faced at the world championships last year.
She was the fastest of the semifinals on Monday.
“The main thing was to take command of the race‚ see how we can run the splits. I was happy with the splits.”
Swimming ends on Tuesday.