Birmingham 2022

Daryl Impey wins Commonwealth Games silver in gripping road race

But Team SA slip to ninth on medals table

07 August 2022 - 17:28
subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now
Daryl Impey competes during the men's road race on Sunday.
Daryl Impey competes during the men's road race on Sunday.
Image: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Daryl Impey burst through at the end of a scintillating 180km road race to snatch silver for Team SA at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday. 

But a fair chunk of that medal belongs to teammate Morne van Niekerk, who worked bravely throughout the race to help reel in the attacks that came frequently and furiously. He almost single-handedly reeled in a two-man breakaway some 10km from the end. 

New Zealand’s Aaron Gate stormed home in 3 hr 28 min 29 sec at the front of a five-man sprint to claim his third gold of Birmingham 2022, with Impey edging Finn Crocket of Scotland.

There was no room on the podium for the vaunted English team, with Fred Wright finishing fifth, Ben Turner seventh and Sam Watson 11th.

Van Niekerk, who rides for French UCI Continental team St Michel-Auber93, ended 12th.

“I would have liked to have gold but Aaron is a lot faster than me at the end. We had a tough race all day, it was really difficult and I had really good support from Morne, so I think we can be chuffed I was second. It's my first medal at the Games, so it was special,” said Impey, 37.

“There was a lot of attacks, a very difficult race. We knew it was going to be aggressive. We knew with a guy like [Mark] Cavenish [who ended 44th] nobody wants to go in the line with him. 

“We knew the race was going to be aggressive like that and we were just caring for each other all day and that's what made the difference," said the veteran SA cyclist, suggesting this would be his last Games. 

“I missed out on the [Tokyo 2020] Olympics last year because I broke my pelvis and this is a nice way to end my Commonwealth Games career, so I'm happy.”

The gong was the 27th for Team SA, but it didn’t save them from slipping to ninth spot on the medals table after Wales moved above them. Malaysia have a chance to leapfrog them on Monday. 

SA, who hadn’t finished lower than seventh since 1994, have one more medal shot in this showpiece, which ends on Monday. Tim Drummond and his band of hockey heroes take on hosts England in the playoff for bronze on Monday.

In other action on Sunday, Zeney van der Walt, the late-charging bronze-winner in the 400m hurdles, and her cohorts ended fifth in the women’s 4x400m relay, won by hosts England in a photo-finish over Canada. 

Ashleigh Pasio and Hayley Preen were the top-placed SA riders in the women’s cycle road race, finishing 11th and 12th in a tussle where Australia took gold and bronze. Competing in a bunch sprint involving 24 riders, they were credited with the same time as the winner, 2hr 44min 46sec. 

Dominique Scott was fifth in the women’s 5,000m in a 15:07.50 season’s best. 

Jo-Ane van Dyk ended sixth in the women’s javelin where Australia took gold and silver. World champion Kelsey-Lee Barber threw 64.43m on her last attempt to steal the title from compatriot Mackenzie Little, who had registered a 64.27 personal best in the fifth round. 

Van Dyk’s furthest effort of 57.12 came on her second throw, though her 61.61 personal best would have elevated her to third spot.

This was the first time since 2002 that SA did not win a medal in this event, thanks largely to the lengthy career of Sunette Viljoen, who has since retired.

Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month. 

subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.