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Wayde van Niekerk to break SA's gold drought?

2016-08-14 22:00
Wayde van Niekerk (Getty Images)

Rio de Janeiro - There has been enough to celebrate, but Team South Africa continues to wait patiently for its first gold medal of Rio 2016. 

*** The men's 400m final will take place at 03:00 SA time on Monday ***

That wait could be over on Sunday night (Monday morning, SA time) when world champion Wayde van Niekerk takes to the track in the final of the men's 400m. 

Van Niekerk was considered the favourite by many in the build-up to the Games based largely on his gold medal at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing last year, but since arriving in Rio the tune has changed somewhat. 

Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt have looked in dangerous form through the heats and the semi-finals, while Van Niekerk qualified fifth fastest for the final. 

He will run out of lane 8 as a result. 

Still, the powers that be in Team South Africa are optimistic. 

"I don't cry easily ... but if we don't get that gold medal tonight I'm going to cry," said SASCOC president, Gideon Sam.

"How can they take it out of our hands every time like that? 

"He's running in, as they say in athletics, a lousy lane ... but catch me if you can."

South Africa have won five silver medals so far at the Games, coming closest to gold through long jumper Luvo Manyonga, who missed out by a centimetre to American Jeff Henderson.

Sam was confident, though, that South Africa could still reach their target of 10 medals in Rio.

"We still have people. We still have open water ... two of the best open water swimmers (Chad Ho and Michelle Webber) still on the cards," he said.

"We still have Bridgitte (Hartley) out there in the canoeing."

Lloyd Burnard is Sport24's correspondent in Rio de Janeiro for the duration of the 2016 Olympics ...

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