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Mixed emotions on a challenging day for SA in Tokyo

Written by Arthur

It wasn’t the most successful of starts to their Olympic campaign for the South African women’s hockey team against Ireland in Tokyo, but it was certainly a night to remember for Charné Maddocks.

The 23-year-old from Kimberley pulled on the green and gold for the first time – making her debut for the national team.

Maddocks was one of three SA debutants on the night, but the only one in the starting line-up.

“It was super-exciting. It went pretty well,” she beamed afterwards. “The nerves were in the first 30 seconds of the game when I had a chance but I think we came out well and played hard.

“It was quite overwhelming to be able to play at international level. I’m chuffed because I was quite nervous but I think I pulled through for my team and gave my best effort so it was pretty exciting. It’s just unlucky we couldn’t get the win today.”

Speaking about making her debut with Lerato Mahole and Edith Molikoe, Maddocks added: “We stepped on as juniors together to make a big impact so it was quite scary. It’s pretty special to make your debut at the world’s biggest event – the Olympic Games – so I’m quite pleased with myself.”

Having lost their opener 2-0 to Ireland, the South Africans now face the daunting task of taking on defending Olympic champions Great Britain in their next game on Monday.

“I think we need to go back to the drawing board and fix a few things. The first game is done, the nerves of being on the world’s biggest platform are over so we just need to come out and be better and bust it in the gut I think,” said Maddocks.

Earlier in the evening, the SA men’s hockey team put up an impressive fight against the British team, all square at 1-1 for much of the match. But they eventually succumbed 3-1 in their opener.

DLAMINI IN BREAKAWAY

Elsewhere, cycling’s Nic Dlamini had South Africans cheering as he formed part of an early breakaway at the front of the men’s road race.

But a stunning upset was not on the cards, with the race won by Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz. Dlamini eventually didn’t finish the race with the best-placed South African Stefan de Bod in 52nd spot.

“It was part of our plan to get somebody in the breakaway and then anticipate the race with two guys in the peloton,” explained Dlamini afterwards.

“It was an open race… it was a hard day, a demanding day but I think we can be proud of the race itself. We’re all young and the Olympics is quite a hard race, especially this edition was pretty hard,” he added.

Over at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, it wasn’t the best of nights for South Africa’s swimmers with both Erin Gallagher (100m butterfly) and Michael Houlie (100m breaststroke) finishing last in their respective heats.

BANDA’S DOUBLE HAT-TRICK

There was good news for the continent in the football tournament, however, with Zambian captain Barbra Banda becoming the first woman in Olympic history to score two hat-tricks in back-to-back games.

The first was against the Netherlands and the second in a thrilling 4-4 draw with China on Saturday after coming back from 3-1 down.

Banda’s six goals have now also seen her equalling the record for the top goalscorer in one edition of the Olympics, with at least one more match to come.

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