World Championships: Pistorius leads SA quartet to new record

2011-09-02 00:00

SOUTH AFRICANS were the flavour of the day at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, Korea, yesterday where Oscar Pistorius led the 4 x 400 m relay team to a new national record and Caster Semenya comfortably secured her place in the 800 m semi-finals

Looking relaxed and controlled defending world champion Semenya was content to drop into fifth position after the first 100 m. With 450 m to go India’s Tintu Luka became entangled with another athlete immediately ahead of the South African.

Semenya powered through to third to avoid further trouble and took control through to the line to share the winning time of 2:01.01 with Russian Mariya Savinova, who was given the nod for first place.

“It was not a big deal, don’t want to talk,” said the Tukkies athlete who has avoided the media since arriving in Daegu as she strode through the media frenzy with as much control as she showed on the track.

“It went fine and I’m happy. It wasn’t a big deal, I’m just doing one race at a time” she said speaking in Sepedi to a South African journalist.

Semenya, who appeared to be holding her knee after her run, races the semi-final today at 12.25 pm (SA time).

Pistorius may have been third slowest out of the blocks in the 4 x 400 m relay, but by sustaining his pace over the last 50 m of his leg he pulled South Africa back to send Ofentse Mogawane away in second behind the American quartet.

The former national champion secured the position with Willie de Beer and Shane Victor, the only KZN athlete in Daegu, doing well to finish third in a new national record of 2:29.21.

The previous South African record of 3:00.20 was set in 1999 in Seville by a quartet that included KZN’s Matthew Quinn and Lee-Roy Newton.

“I just wanted to get out comfortably and then see how hard I could go at the end. I was very, very happy with that,” said Pistorius, who confirmed he would have at least three races on the circuit after the world championships, and aired his hope to be maintained in the team for the final.

The relay team for the final today at 2.15 pm (SA time) will be announced today. L.J. van Zyl is expected to be named in the anchor leg, but whether management feel Pistorius’ slow start is seen as a handicap is unclear. Bear in mind that on form the Blade Runner has the second fastest 400 m time of a South African this year.

The big upset of the morning was Khotso Mokoena who, achieving only 8,0 metres on his third attempt, failed to qualify in the long jump. Looking more like a sprinter on the runway, the Olympic silver medalist blasted down the approach to foul on his first two attempts.

Luvo Manyonga, who has been in Mokoena’s shadow for most of his career, secured the second last qualifying place with 8,04 m.

It took javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen one effort to secure her spot in the final.

Injury again haunted Robert Oosthuizen at a major championships when he wrenched his shoulder with his first throw of 69,95 m after which there was no comeback. He recorded 73,14 m and 72,79 m for his second and third attempts.

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