American swim star Amanda Beard – the ex-girlfriend of Ryk Neethling – is looking at competing at her fifth Olympics in London 2012.
That’s amazing longevity. Neethling himself was an ageing warrior at his fourth Olympics in Beijing 2008. Veteran Roland Schoeman will compete at his fourth Games if he makes the team for London.
At her first Games in Atlanta 1996, Beard played second fiddle to SA’s breaststroke queen Penny Heyns, who became the first (and so far only) woman to win both the 100m and 200m races at a single Games.
Ryan Sandes must surely rank as one of South Africa’s top active sportsmen at the moment, although few fans outside soccer, rugby and cricket probably know who he is.
He’s an ultra marathon adventure runner who’s currently competing along the Amazon in Brazil, where he is in the lead. By the way, do you know what Ryan has in common with former Bok fullback Percy Montgomery? They both went to the same school in Cape Town – SACS (although not at the same time).
Sandes has just completed day four of his jungle epic, and here’s his latest update (click here to follow him on his own blog):
“We started off today with a 200m swim across a river… faaak swimming with a pack is not so easy!!
“My heart-rate went through the roof from the swim and only 20min into the run did it get back to normal – respect to the ironmen.
“Today was quite a flat course and it was nice to be able to run at a constant pace the whole way. I ran most of the way with Mike Wolf of the North Face and we crossed the line together. It was a relief to get the stage out the way with no set backs and now for the long stage tomorrow – its going to be brutal!
“I am hoping to run the long stage with someone, maybe Mike as he has been ripping up the 50 and 100 milers in the States. It going to be a long slog but I will be taking it slow and steady and taking no chances… We start of the stage with another 250m swim and then 49km of jungle and 43km of trails!
“49 competitors have dropped out of the race so far mainly to heat issues… so the rumble in the jungle has been hectic.
“My feet do not have any blisters (must be my shoes – Salomon S Labs!) except for a bust toe nail from kicking a few roots.
“My ankles have had a break the last two days and my legs feel good so I am ampt for one last big push tomorrow!
“Thanks to everyone for the messages – they are a huge boost!
“C, I hope you are recovering well! I was super stoked to hear you out of hospital early and celebrated yesterday on stage 3!!
“Over and out, Ryan”
There was no shortage of great sport this weekend.
We had the Springboks beating the All Blacks (again!), Orlando Pirates winning the Charity Cup and Gerhard Zandberg taking bronze in the 50 backstroke (as well as a whole bunch of other events).
But the contest that stood out for me was the men’s 100 butterfly final at the World Championships in Rome on Saturday, won by superhuman Michael Phelps who produced a display of awesome power. In claiming eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics last year, it was the 100m fly that created the most controversy, when Phelps was awarded the title by one-hundredth of a second, even though it appeared to the naked eye that Serbia’s Milorad Cavic had edged it.
Their showdown at the weekend was about setting the record straight, and once again it was Cavic who took the early lead – Phelps wasn’t even third at the turn. But on the second lap the American transformed into a long-armed aquatic monster, closing down the gap so quickly that with about 15 metres remaining, he was in the lead.
Both Phelps and Cavic went below 50 seconds for the first time in the history of swimming. Phelps v Cavic is a great rivalry, probably one that matches Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal, or Muhammad Ali v Joe Frazier. Unfortunately, they probably won’t face off again until the 2011 World Championships, and then the 2012 Olympics in London.
But it’ll be worth waiting for!
Cameron van der Burgh is the new poster boy of South African swimming, after adding the 50m breaststroke World Championship gold in Rome on Wednesday night to the 100m bronze medal he claimed the other night.
His teammates have produced some sterling performances this week, but it appears that some of them are doing something wrong – because they’re getting slower as the competition progresses.
Swimmers are supposed to get faster as they compete through the heats, semifinals and then finals (by the way, there are no semifinals for events longer than 200m). Yet no fewer than four SA swimmers have found themselves performing better in the heats than the semifinals and finals.
1. Roland Schoeman cracked a championship record in the 50m butterfly heats and then slowed so much in the evening semifinal that he failed to qualify for the final;
2. Wendy Trott set an SA record in the 1500m freestyle heats, and then went slower in the final;
3. Lyndon Ferns broke his SA 100m freestyle record in the morning heats, then slowed in the semifinals, although he at least still qualified for Thursday’s final; and,
4. Sebastien Rousseau cracked an SA record of 1min 54.52sec in the 200m butterfly heats, then slowed to 1:54.71 in the semifinals, and then slowed even more in the final on Wednesday evening.
Is this a coincidence or a worrying trend? The irony is that this was a problem at the Beijing Olympics too. But then, if you remember, they at least faced the absurdity of racing heats in the evenings and the semifinals and finals in the mornings (accommodating US television audiences).
But in Rome, the race schedule is back to normal, which presumably means the SA swimmers are doing something wrong. Hopefully they can sort it out.