SA relay team fumble out of contention

Akani Simbine (Beeld)
Akani Simbine (Beeld)

Johannesburg - South Africa's hopes of a men’s 4x100m relay medal took a tumble in Saturday's heats at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.

The team did not finish due to a bungle at the first baton exchange between Henricho Bruintjies and world 200m bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana.

Jobodwana, who only two days ago ran the race of his life to claim the 200m bronze medal in a new South African record time of 19.87 seconds was too fast with Bruintjies failing to hand the baton over in the changeover zone.

This left three legs unfinished with Akani Simbine and Antonio Alkana mere spectators.

The bungle was hardly a surprise as the team were not given an opportunity to practice.

They only had their first practice run in the morning before the race.

"Relay just didn't happen for us today, sorry guys," Jobodwana said on Twitter after the race.

"We're hoping that next time we're given proper preparation to do our best."

The team had some serious potential with the South African joint-record holders in the 100m Bruintjies and Simbine and Jobodwana included in the quartet.

Newly crowned 400m world champion Wayde van Niekerk, who posted a new South African record with the sixth fastest of all time of 43.48 seconds, was also a member of the larger six-member team.

South Africa has a proud tradition in the relay events at the World Championships with the 4x100m relay team of Morne Nagel, Corne du Plessis, Lee-Roy Newton and Mathew Quinn winning the gold medal at theEdmonton edition in 2001.

Despite the emerging sprinting talent South Africa failed to send a team to the World Relays for two consecutive years.

South Africa have an equally proud record in the 4x400m relays with Willie de Beer, LJ van Zyl, Shane Victor, Oscar Pistorius and Ofentse Mogowane banding together to win the silver medal at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu.

At 1999 Seville World Championships, the South African team of Jopie van Oudtshoorn, Hendrik Mokganyetsi, Adriaan Botha and Arnaud Malherbe claimed the bronze medal.

Athletics SA also made no attempt at qualify a 4x400m relay team.

A formidable quartet could have been assembled spearheaded by Van Niekerk and supported by top-class 400m hurdlers Cornel Fredericks and national record-holder Van Zyl.

However, a team failed to qualify during the window between January 1, 2014 and August 10, 2015.

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