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All Africa Games - Day 6

Sep 18, 1999  - Neville Smith

Six Of The Best For Mandy Loots

Mandy Loots (Dolphins), the diminutive "Gauteng Flyer" scooped two more swimming gold medals at the Ellis Park Aquatic Complex in Johannesburg on Friday night for a personal tally of six - making her South Africa's most decorated athlete of the All Africa Games.

While the host nation again dominated proceedings on the final evening of the swimming competition with a haul of five golds and three silvers, Charlene Wittstock (Seagull) was left devastated when she was disqualified after winning the 50m freestyle for a false start.

The 21-year-old Loots won the 200m butterfly and 200m backstroke evening finals to add to her top placings in the 400m and 200m individual medleys, 100m fly and 4x100m medley relay.

South African gymnast Tamaryn Schultz has also won six medals, but only two of those were gold.

The normally-reserved Loots, who has recently taken to parading to pre race starts wearing a South African flag mad-hatter creation, swam a Games record 2min 16,02secs in the butterfly, some 4 seconds off her Continental and domestic mark set in Shefield, UK earlier this year.

Compatriot Natalie du Toit (Vineyard) (2:19.80) was second and Kenza Benaceur of Algeria (2:33.54) third.

Less than an hour later, she sped to her second victory, taking the backstroke in 2:21.22 - the only individual final in which she failed to break a Games record.

"That backstroke was really long. I was just tired after all of the races," said Loots, who was unable to identify her most enjoyable victory.

"I think they've all been amazing. I've enjoyed all of them."

Looking ahead to the Olympic Games in Sydney next year, Loots said she fancied her chances of winning a medal.

"I think I'll make the final in the 200m 'fly and maybe the 100m. Once you're in the final, anything can happen."

But in the drama of the night, a tearful Wittstock was left have to learn from her mistake which cost her a second win over double Africa record-holder Rania Elwani of Egypt.

Elwani and South Africa's Stacey Bowley (Seagull), who had tied for second place in 26.56, shared gold with Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry taking bronze in 26.72.

"That was a stupid thing," said 21-year-old Wittstock. "I was still adjusting on the block, I lent forward to adjust my balance."

Swimmers are not allowed to move just before the start buzzer.

"But I'll turn it into a positive thing. At least we still won gold, I'm so happy for Stacey. And I've beaten Rania in two races now, I know that I've beaten her," said Wittstock, who claimed her first ever win over Elwani in the 100m freestyle earlier in the week.

Wittstock was disqualified for a simular incident at the recent Pan Pac's and one wonders how quickly she will learn.

Theo Verster (Kings Park) raced the 200m to win in a Games record time of 2:04.10, beating team-mate Terence Parkin (Seagull) (2:07.97) and Kenny Roberts of Seychelles (2:11.00).

The South African men's team of Brett Rogers (Dolphins), Brett Petersen (EL Harlequins), Ryan Kelly (Dolphins) and Brendon Dedekind (Pietermaritzburg Seals) won the 4x100m medley relay in 3:51.45. Algeria (3:54.91) was second and Egypt (3:58.22) third.

South Africa finished the swimming competition at the top of the medals table with 54 medals (30 gold, 21 silver, three bronze). Zimbabwe, with 14 medals, was second (one gold, five silver, eight bronze).