The national Under-20 track and field team earned six more podium places on Sunday to end their four-day CAA African Junior Championships campaign with a total of 17 medals in Tlemcen, Algeria.
The medal tally was made up of 12 gold, four silver and one bronze.
Saturday only produced one medal for SA as Carel Haasbroek flew the national flag with gold.
Producing a best heave of 68.91 metres, Haasbroek earned the gold medal in the men’s hammer, more than nine metres clear of Algerian athlete Sid Ali Aboudi (59.65m) who finished second.
In Sunday’s final-day action sprinter Clarence Munyai stormed to a spectacular victory in the men’s 200-metre final, clocking 20.22 seconds for the second fastest time of his career.
Munyai shattered the 22-year-old championship record of 20.76 held by now senior African champion Ibrahim Meite of the Ivory Coast, finishing well ahead of Zimbabwean silver medallist Kundai Maguranyanga who crossed the line in 21.11.
In the men’s discus throw, the SA squad bagged the one-two positions, with Werner Dames launching a best effort of 72.75m to edge out countryman Hernu van Vuuren by just one centimetre.
Mpho Tladi was also in fine form, charging to a commanding win in the men’s 110m hurdles final in 13.78, albeit with the benefit of a +2.4m/s tailwind.
Among the women, discus thrower Yolandi Stander secured gold with a best effort of 49.13m, adding to her silver medal in the shot put earlier in the week.
She fell 21 centimetres shy of her personal best, taking the title with a victory margin of more than 10 metres clear of her nearest opponent.
Jana Steinmann, shot put gold medallist, had to settle for fourth place in the discus, delivering a best attempt of 34.93m.
Versatile athlete Jone Kruger won the heptathlon with 4 850 points, holding off a challenge from Afaf Benhadja of Algeria, who took second place with 4 552 points in front of her home crowd.
The SA team finished second on the overall medals table behind Ethiopia, who bagged more than double the SA tally with 38 medals, including 13 gold.
‘We are very proud of the junior national team for the hard work they have put up and the medals they have brought home,’ said Aleck Skhosana, the President of Athletics South Africa.
‘This is what sending out a national team is all about. Athletes going out there and putting their country first, is a spirit that continues to shine from our athletes.
‘We always strive to be number one on the overall table, but it’s a job well done nevertheless. So, it’s congratulations to all athletes, coaches, management and everyone one who contributed to this success.’
However, Skhosana will no doubt have taken notice of the worrying fact that the SA medals tally has been on the decline at the last four African Junior Championships. In 2011, the team won 34 medals, in 2013 that had dropped to 24 and two years ago it was 23.
Source: South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee