Home Sport Second gold medal for SA as Coetze snatches 100m backstroke title

Second gold medal for SA as Coetze snatches 100m backstroke title

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It was a thrilling race right to the wall, but Pieter Coetze pulled off a superb finish to snatch the gold medal in the men’s 100m backstroke final to claim South Africa’s second gold medal at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday night.

South Africa’s Pieter Coetze with his gold medal after winning the Men’s 100m Backstroke Final. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire/BackpagePix

IT WAS a thrilling race right to the wall, but Pieter Coetze pulled off a superb finish to snatch the gold medal in the men’s 100m backstroke final to claim South Africa’s second title at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday night.

Earlier in the evening, 19-year-old Lara van Niekerk opened Mzansi’s medal account with gold in the women’s 50m breaststroke in a new Games record time of 29.73 seconds.

And then it was Coetze’s turn to ensure that Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika rings out at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre in Birmingham.

The 18-year-old didn’t have the best of starts, though, as he reacted slightly late to the buzzer.

That saw him trail New Zealand’s Andrew Jeffcoat over the first half of the race.

But the tall South African clawed his way into the lead at the turn to edge ahead by nearly two-tenths of a second over the Kiwi.

Coetze, though, didn’t see England’s Brodie Williams roaring ahead alongside him, and with the home crowd cheering him on, it looked like the South African had lost out on top spot.

But Coetze got out his long levers to touch the wall just ahead of Williams in a time of 53.78 seconds, with the English Englishman having to settle for silver in 53.91, while Australian Bradley Woodward secured the bronze in 54.06.

Earlier, Van Niekerk charged up on the rest of the field to clinch the gold medal in a new Commonwealth Games in the 50m breaststroke.

South Africa’s Lara van Niekerk on the way to winning the Women’s 50m Breaststroke at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Picture: Davies Davies/PA Wire/BackpagePix

The 19-year-old speedster charged up on the rest of the field to clinch the gold medal in a new Commonwealth Games record of 29.73 seconds at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre in Birmingham on Saturday night.

The victory signalled South Africa’s first gong at the Games.

British swimmer Imogen Clark grabbed the silver medal in 30.02, while Chelsea Hodges of Australia secured the bronze in 30.05.

South Africa’s two other finalists, Tatjana Schoenmaker and Kaylene Corbett, finished fourth (30.41) and sixth respectively (31.10).

Van Niekerk’s mark was the third time she broke the Commonwealth Games record in Birmingham, having clocked 29.82 in the heats and 29.80 in the semi-finals.

In the final, Clark was in the lead for most of the race, but Van Niekerk turned on the heat in the last 15 metres to touch the wall first.

Schoenmaker, who earned a 200m gold and 100m silver at the Tokyo Olympics, will hope to push for podium places in those two events again in Birmingham.

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