As the first week of a pulsating Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro comes to an end, KwaZulu-Natal’s Elite Athlete Development Programme has seen a number of their own athletes shine in their respective disciplines as the games’ focus shifts from the swimming pool to the athletics track with the track and field programme getting under way this weekend.
EADP swimmers Myles Brown and Calvyn Justus did themselves proud during the opening week of competition however, due to the highly competitive nature of the swimming programme, were unable to qualify for their individual finals.
Brown bettered his own South African record in the 400 metre freestyle heat but was unable to produce one of the eight fastest times which would have qualified him for the final of the event.
Justus and Brown teamed up for the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay and despite strong swims from the pair, their quartet were unable to progress into the final as they finished eleventh fastest.
Heading into the final week of competition, Friday’s programme sees young Matthew Meyer is in action in the men’s 1500 metre freestyle heats while Justus rounds out the indoor swimming programme for the EADP when he joins medallists Cameron van den Berg (breaststroke) and Chad le Clos (butterfly) as well as Chris Reid (backstroke) for the men’s 4x100m medley relay.
Open water swimming comes into the spotlight in the second week of the competition as Michelle Weber and Chad Ho fight it out against the world’s best for a spot on the podium in the 10km Marathon swim on Monday, 15 and Tuesday, 16 August respectively.
The focus then swings to the track as speedster Anaso Jobodwana gets his medal hunt underway on Tuesday in the 200 metre heats. Jobodwana has been out of action for most of 2016 with injury but the sprinter has been working hard and is hopeful that he can reproduce the form that saw him win bronze in the 200m at the World Championships in 2015 in Beijing.
Golden girl of South African sprint canoeing, Bridgitte Hartley steps into the spotlight at the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas on Wednesday when she looks to replicate or better her 2012 bronze medal effort when her 500m K1 heat gets underway.
Hartley’s form has not been as strong as she would have liked in the past twelve months however she will draw on the experience of her London bronze as well as her 2014 World Championship bronze medal.
South Africa will have two representatives in the men’s triathlon taking place on Thursday with Commonwealth Games star Richard Murray being joined by young, up and coming shining light Henri Schoeman.
Schoeman has been making good strides up the triathlon world rankings in 2016 and the constant improvement has led to many athletes taking notice of him in the build up to Rio. This confidence and the young 24 year-old’s form could see him ruffle a few feathers at the showpiece.
Rounding out the EADP athlete’s action is 20 year-old Alan Hatherly who joins James Reid as part of the South African Cross Country Mountain Biking onslaught at Rio on 21 August.
The selection process for mountain biking was an intense one with Hatherly, Reid and 2012 Olympic Phillip Buys fighting it out for the two Team South Africa spots, Hatherly’s consistent form and impressive results throughout the UCI MTB World Cup Series in the Under-23 age category ultimately giving him the leg up over Buys.
ELITE ATHLETE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME ATHLETE SCHEDULE – Rio Olympic Games Week Two (SA Time)
Michelle Weber – 15th August 14:00 – 10km Marathon Swim
Chad Ho – 16th August 14:00 – 10km Marathon Swim
Anaso Jobodwana – 16th August 16:50 – 200m Heats
Bridgitte Hartely – 17th August 14:51 – K1 500m heats
Henri Scheoman – 18th August 16:00 – Triathlon
Alan Hatherly – 21 August 17:30 – Cross Country MTB