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Lara van Niekerk wins first gold for Team SA at Commonwealth Games


Teenager Lara van Niekerk opened South Africa’s account at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday night, earning the national team’s first medal on day two of the multi-sport showpiece in Birmingham.

Van Niekerk won gold in the women’s 50m breaststroke final, touching the wall in 29.73 and slicing 0.07 off the Commonwealth Games record (29.80) she had set in the semifinals the night before.

The 19-year-old swimmer was just 0.01 outside the African record (29.72) she set at the SA Championships in Gqeberha in April, completing the race well clear of England’s Imogen Clark, who grabbed silver in 30.02.

Olympic 200m breaststroke champion Tatjana Schoenmaker took fourth place in the sprint final in 30.41, and Kaylene Corbett finished sixth in 31.10.

ALSO READ: Lara van Niekerk – A closer look at SA’s newest swimming sensation

Later on Saturday evening, a number of South Africans were expected to join the medal hunt in the pool.

Pieter Coetze was set to line up as the favourite in the men’s 100m backstroke final, while Cornelle Leach and Alani Ferreira were in the line-up for the women’s 50m freestyle S13 final.

Matthew Sates was due to compete in two finals, in the men’s 200m freestyle and 400m individual medley events.

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