SA's joy at 5th medal
BRIDGITTE Hartley gave South African women more reason to celebrate on Women's Day when she won bronze in the women's kayak singles (K1) 500m
Hartley took South Africa's medal tally at the London Olympics to five (three gold, one silver and one bronze). Another South African woman, Sunette Viljoen, was scheduled to take part in the javelin final last night.
Hartley became the first South African woman to win a medal at the London Games.
SA women first won a medal at the 1928 Games in Amsterdam where the 4x100m freestyle relay team of Rhoda Rennie, Rederica van der Goes, Maria Redford and Kathleen Russell won bronze.
At the next Olympics in Los Angeles, 80m hurdler Marjorie Clark and 400m freestyle swimmer Jenny Maakal both came back with bronze medals.
It took another 20 years before SA women won other medals, and the wait was worth it, with two gold medals from high jumper Esther Brand and 100m backstroke swimmer Joan Harrison, as well as silver from 100m sprinter Daphne Robb-Hasenjager.
The last women's medal before South Africa was isolated because of apartheid came from the 4x100m freestyle relay team - Moira Abernethy, Jeanette Myburgh, Natalie Myburgh and Susan Roberts - at the 1956 Melbourne Games.
Elana Meyer put the country back on the map when she won a silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona Games after South Africa was reinstated into international sport.
The 1996 Atlanta Games were probably the most successful for South African women. Swimmer Penny Heyns made history as she won gold in the 100m and 200m breaststroke while 100m backstroke swimmer Marianne Kriel added a bronze.
Heyns added a bronze medal from the 100m breaststroke at the 2000 Sydney Games while high jumper Hestrie Cloete claimed silver.
High jumper Cloete repeated the feat in Athens in 2004 where she won another silver - the last medal by a SA woman before Hartley's heroics yesterday.
SA remains hopeful that 800m runner Caster Semenya will do the country's proud women by celebrating Women's Month with another gold medal.