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10 July 2018 | in NUSF News

Team South Africa dominate regional CUCSA Games

Team South Africa is still beaming with pride following their dominant performance at the recently-concluded Confederation of University and College Sports Association (CUCSA) Games held in Botswana.


The five day event, which involves ten nations from southern African taking part in a variety of sporting codes every two years, recently concluded its 19th edition, with defending champions South Africa once again reigning supreme in both the men’s and women’s events.


Despite partaking in only five of the ten sports on offer, Team South Africa asserted its dominance on the event once more, with the 127-strong delegation bringing home 59 medals in total, including 25 golds, 16 silvers and seven bronzes – an improvement of 28 medals from their championship-winning tally of 31 in Zimbabwe two years ago.


Neighbours Zimbabwe ended the tournament as runners up with 10 golds, eight silvers and 13 bronze medals, while hosts Botswana bagged 59 medals in total, made up of nine golds, 18 silvers and 32 bronze medals.


The first medals of the tournament were claimed by South Africa’s table tennis team, who powered to overall victory, bringing home 19 medals across all formats in both the men’s and women’s events.


Team South Africa’s brilliance shone on the University of Botswana Stadium’s track and field, as 35 medals were won, with every athlete selected ending on the podium, contributing to the 17 golds, 14 silvers and four bronze medals in total. Every South African relay team emerged victorious, while the South African men dominated the 10 000m event, securing a top three finish as Pakiso Mthembu – who also won the 5000m – sped to victory, followed by compatriots Michael Pienaar and Sive Ngubo.


At the impressive University of Botswana Sports Centre, team South Africa topped Pool B in the men’s volleyball as they went on to beat Zambia 3-0 in the semi-final before going down 3-2 to Zimbabwe in a fiercely-contested final, while the women’s team won their third-place play-off to walk away with the bronze medal.


On the basketball court, South Africa’s women’s team failed to defend their title, as they went down 67-60 to Zimbabwe in the final, despite having beaten the very same side 70-54 in the group stages. The men’s team made amends however, emerging victorious as they beat hosts Botswana 75-61 in the gold medal play-off.


Finally in the football event, South Africa were victorious in both the women’s and men’s event, the former beating Zimbabwe 4-0 in the final while the men’s team downed Zambia 2-0 to claim the gold, with Ludumo Nkebe netting the second goal to take his tally to a tournament-high six goals.


With the results depicting a landslide victory for South Africa, Head of Delegation Mandla Gagayi was naturally pleased, but reveals things weren’t as easy as it seems at first glance.


“Our success is proof that South Africa has a huge pool of talent,” he said. “This is because the Games were scheduled during exams and so some athletes had to withdraw to focus on their studies.


“It also demonstrated our students' resilience and being able to overcome obstacles. There were many challenges that we had to contend with during the Games, from not having hot water and sometimes no water at all, to poor conditions of outdoor facilities, match officials arriving late as well as a diarrhoea outbreak, but our athletes rose above all those challenges and got almost double the number of medals from the previous Games.”


Having hinted before the Games that the competition will be used by selectors to cast an eye on athletes ahead of next year’s Summer Universiade in Napoli, Gagayi feels many squad members lifted their hands ahead of next year’s universal meet.


“Every student athlete would love to get selected for the Universiade,” he said. “But it all depends on what each coach is looking for. But most athletes that participated in the CUCSA Games will definitely make the cut for the Universiade team.


“Remember that the likes of world-renowned stars Anaso Jobodwana, Akani Simbine and Wayde Van Niekerk all came through the Universiades, so that alone is huge motivation for any student athlete.”

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