As the country celebrates Women’s Day, a South African woman has kept the nations’ flag flying high at the London Summer Olympics. Bridgitte Hartley claimed the bronze medal in the Kayak single 500 metres race, bringing South Africa’s medals tally to five. Hartley lined-up on the Eton Dorney course full of confidence after finishing first in her semi-final. She had a solid start and by the 250 metre mark was holding strong in fourth. One of Hartley’s hallmarks has always been her powerful finishing, and she held off the sustained challenge of both Sweden and Italy for a well deserved third place, recording a time of 1:52.92. After her achievement, Hartley said she is speechless, saying after her heats and semis she realised she had a chance at a medal. She confesses that she hardly slept last night, owing to nerves. She becomes the first South African woman bagging an Olympic medal since 2004, when Hestrie Cloete won silver in the high jump at Athens. Her achievement also completes the set for South Africa in London, having won three golds, one silver and now a bronze. At this games, it certainly seems that the country excels in all things water-related.
Meanwhile, Hungary’s Danuta Kozak was out of reach for the gold and Ukraine’s Inna Osypenko-Radomska second.
In other games, Willem Coertzen did well to improve his position early on in the men’s decathlon. He moved into ninth place in the multi-code event — after winning his heat in the 110meters hurdles with a personal best time of 14 point 1 5 seconds. But despite another personal best performance in the discus throw — he dropped to 10th place overall — after ranking fifth with a throw of 43 point 58 meters. After the pole vault, where he could only manage a height of 4 point five meters, the South African dropped to 13th position. Swimmer Jessica Roux was unable to finish the women’s 10 kilometers open water event. The nineteen year old from Port Elizabeth — who was at the back of the field for most of the race — quit after just over an hour and 20 minutes, having completed only three laps in Hyde Park’s Serpentine Lake. And finally, cyclist Sifiso Nhlapo failed to qualify for tomorrow’s semi-final in the men’s BMX. Nhlapo only mananged a rank of eighth in five runs during today’s quarter final.
– By Simon Burke