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Van Niekerk clinches SA’s first gold of Commonwealth Games

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Lara van Niekerk (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Lara van Niekerk claimed South Africa’s first gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games on Saturday as she won the 50m breaststroke final.

Swimming in lane 1, Van Niekerk didn’t have the best of starts, but a superb finish saw her touch the wall in 29.73, a new Games record.

She finished ahead of Imogen Clark (England) in 30.02 and Chelsea Hodges (Australia) in 30.05.

Two other South Africans, Tatjana Schoenmaker, finished fourth with Kaylene Corbett in sixth.

In the women’s 50m freestyle semi-final heats, Erin Gallagher finished 4th with Olivia Nel in 5th in the first heat, while Emma Chelius was 3rd in the second heat.

That means that both Gallagher and Chelius move onto the final with the fifth and seventh fastest times, respectively, while Nel is the first reserve. 

In the men’s 200m freestyle, 19-year old Matthew Sates faded after a strong start to finish in sixth with Duncan Scott of Scotland taking gold.

The women’s 50m S13 final was won by Australia’s Katja Dedekind with Alani Ferreira and Cornelle Leach of South Africa finishing in seventh and eighth, respectively. 

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