CORNEL Fredericks blew away a field featuring the reigning world champion to claim the 400m hurdles crown at a wet Hampden Park last night.
Fredericks comfortably carried the favourite’s tag in Glasgow – ranked No 1 in the Commonwealth he went the fastest in the heats and then led almost from the start of the final to capture Team South Africa’s 11th gold of the Games.
It was another profitable day with five more medals in all, including a lawn bowls gold and a wrestling bronze.
Andre Olivier snatched the 800m bronze at the death of an enthralling race, overhauling a Kenyan and an Australian just before the line, but ahead of him was a titantic tussle between Olympic champion David Rudisha and London 2012 runner-up Nijel Amos of Botswana.
But this time Amos, Olivier’s training partner in Potchefstroom, rocketed past the Kenyan to win in 1min 45.18sec.
“I think the last 50m I just closed my eyes and hoped for bronze,” admitted Olivier, who clocked 1:46.03 to beat Cherulyot Rotich of Kenya by six-hundredths of a second.
Fredericks said his strategy was to go out fast to eliminate his main rival, world champion Jehue Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago.
“I told myself today is my day. I knew he [Gordon] was going to come back hard at the end, so I had to go out fast.
“With 100m to go I remembered my late coach, Bruce Longden, saying ‘I must stay tall’,” said Fredericks of his former mentor, who died in 2012.
Fredericks was chuffed with his time of 48.50sec.
“That can get you into the final of any major championship. I don’t want to be just another 400m hurdler, I want to be one of the best in the world.”
In other athletics action, Akani Simbine ended fifth in the 200m final in a 20.37sec personal best, but Jamaican Rasheed Dwyer’s winning time of 20.14 would have been within range of SA’s Anaso Jobodwana, who was forced to miss the Games because of injury.
Victor “Hulk” Hogan ended a disappointing 10th in the men’s discus after registering the second-best distance in qualifying.
The bowls open trips, a disabled category, beat New Zealand 13-11 in a tough encounter for gold, and the women’s trips team downed Wales 23-14 in the bronze playoff.
Armando Hietbrink won wrestling bronze in the men’s freestyle 86kg division.
By last night, Team SA’s medal tally had grown to 36, which surpasses the 33 they won at Delhi 2010 and the 34 of Kuala Lumpur 1998.
With two more gongs in the bag – Colleen Piketh and Tracy-Lee Botha will this morning attempt to win lawn bowls’ fifth gold of the Games in the women’s pairs – they are certain at least to equal the 38 of Melbourne 2006.
But SA’s fifth place from those three Games is in jeopardy, as they remain in seventh position in Glasgow.
The trips team of Deon van der Vyfer, Roger Hagerty and Derrick Lobban are registered in the B6/B7/B8 categories, but they attacked like B-52 bombers in the third and fourth ends yesterday.
Leading 2-1 after two ends, they flew to 4-1 after three and then 7-1 after four, but any thoughts of a runaway win over an outfit they had drawn with 10-10 in the round robin phase were quickly eradicated.
New Zealand struck back to draw level at 7-7 after seven ends, and from there it was a ding-dong battle, with the SA trio just keeping their noses in front.
The lawn bowlers have delivered four gold medals for SA, more than any other code, including swimming with three. – David Isaacson