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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

South Africans Strike Gold at Last

VICTORIA, British Columbia -- South Africa's 36-year victory drought at the Commonwealth Games has ended emphatically with two gold medals.


Thursday's golds came in the men's and women's fours in lawn bowling and were South Africa's first at the games since 1958, when it won 13 golds, 10 silvers and eight bronze. After that, the country was barred until this year because of its apartheid policy.


Since the games began a week ago, the South Africans had won four medals -- one silver, by 10,000-meter runner Elana Meyer, and three bronze. But the coveted gold had eluded them until they beat Australia 21-18 in the men's lawn bowls final and Papua New Guinea 24-17 in the women's final.


South Africa also was banned from the Olympics for 32 years starting in 1960, and when it returned for the 1992 Barcelona Games, it got two silvers -- one by Meyer, the other in men's doubles tennis.


"Barcelona was symbolic, Victoria is real business," chef de mission Tyam Zashe said after the country won the long-sought golds. "We no longer have to make excuses ... We only needed the opportunity -- and we got it."


Meanwhile, Australian Michael Murphy completed a remarkable run in men's diving by winning the 10-meter platform event with 644.700 points.


Earlier, the confident 20-year-old from Brisbane won the 3-meter event and finished second in the 1-meter competition.


Robert Morgan of Wales, the 1990 champion, finished a distant second with 585.960 points.


Annie Pelletier led a close 1-2 Canadian finish in the women's 3-meter diving, collecting 529.860 points to Paige Gordon's 529.080. Earlier, Pelletier had won the 1-meter competition.


Australians swept both race walks.


Kerry Saxby-Junna, a 33-year-old tour guide, led the way in the women's 10-kilometer walk in 44 minutes, 25 seconds.


"I wanted to get the gold medal again," Saxby-Junna said, after breaking the games record of 45:03 she set in winning the gold medal in the first women's walk event at the Commonwealth Games in 1990 at Auckland, New Zealand.


"I put much pressure on myself. The more stressful an event is, the better I compete," he said.


Australian Nicholas A'Hern won the men's 30-km walk at 2:07:53, only six seconds off the games record of 2:07:47 set by fellow Aussie Simon Baker in 1986 at Edinburgh, Scotland.


"I pushed myself to somewhere I've never been before," A'Hern, 25, a hairdresser, said. "That's a personal best for me by a few minutes."


The two gold medals gave Australia five after 16 track events. England, the overall track and field medals leader with 13, has four golds. The two walks were the only track events on Thursday's schedule.


Australians won all three cycling events with games' records. Bradley McGee took the men's 4,000 pursuit race in 4:31.371, Kathryn Watt won the women's 3,000 pursuit event in 3:48.522, and Stuart O'Grady captured the men's 10-mile race in 18:50.453.


In shooting, Cyprus and India each earned a second gold medal, and Wales got its first.


Fani Theofanous of Cyprus won the women's individual air rifle competition with a score of 488.7, edging Mari Wickremasinghe of Sri Lanka, the runner-up with 488.5, and Sharon Bowes of Canada, the bron Singh took the gold in the open trapshooting with a 141 score, just ahead of George Leary of Canada, the silver medalist with 140, and Michael Jay of Wales won the men's individual rapid fire pistol event with a games' record 670.4.


Bulgarian-born Kiril Kounev swept all three gold medals in the 83kg class in weightlifting, a competition marred when Scotland's John McEwan broke his right arm. Kounev, the 1989 world champion, lifted 152.5 kilograms in the snatch and 200 in clean and jerk for a total of 352.5.


David Morgan gave Wales two golds in weightlifting, winning the snatch competition with a Commonwealth record 147.5 kilograms and the overall title in the 76-kilogram class. The gold in clean and jerk went to Damian Brown of Australia.