'Fab four' need world record

2008-08-10 22:09

Beijing - "It' s anyone' s game tomorrow (Monday)."

That' s the message from Darian Townsend after the South African team were confined to third in their heat and sixth overall in the first round of the 4x100m relay at Beijing's Water Cube on Sunday night.

With the US team shaving 0.23 seconds from their previous World record, the South African quartet of Lyndon Ferns, Roland Schoeman, Ryk Neethling and Darian Townsend knew fast times were required to make Monday's final. France dominated the second heat that saw Italy move up from sixth into second after the first changeover and South Africa coming back from fifth to get third in a African record of 3:13.06.

Amaury Leveaux set a new Olympic record of 47.76 over the first leg, creating the foundation for their 3:12.36 European record, with the Italians second only 0.29 seconds off the mark. Five teams, including Sweden and Australia, who set a new Oceanic record (3:12.41), went under 3:13.

"The times are amazing, we were right up there and came sixth," said Townsend "Let's just get to sleep now and wake up early, come back renewed and with good attitude...we were right there, so we could be right there tomorrow and come sixth or third or second or first."

Gerhard Zandberg produced an African record of 53.75 seconds for the 100m backstroke and became the eighth fastest time of the year. Zandberg turned behind Lubos Krizko, but overtook the Slovakian to edge him out by 0.32 seconds.

"I'm extremely happy, so much hard work, money and...some tears went into come here and swim is break the African record is fantastic," said Zandberg who has practised in the morning in order to adapt to the change to morning finals.

Get some rest

He is drawn in the second semi on Monday and will line up against American Matt Grevers, who took the Olympic record down to 53.41 seconds in the fourth heat.

"Hopefully I can get some rest tonight, manage to eat enough tomorrow and see what happens... I have prepared for this and really want to go faster."

For the first half of his race, it looked as though Jean Basson was going to struggle to make the cut.

The 20 year-old lay fourth at 100m before cutting through to second at 150m and securing the win in 1:46.31.

Basson, who is ranked third in the world this year, had the second fastest time of the night, behind Switzerland' s Dominik Meichtry, who had edged Michael Phelps into second with a 1:45.80 winning time in the final heat. Basson is drawn next to Phelps in the first semi-final.

Townsend placed second in the earlier 200m freestyle heat in a time of 1:48.08, but failed to get through to Monday's semi-finals. Isreal's Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or won in 1:47.78

SA's 100m-breaststroke swimmer, Suzaan van Biljon was the only other South African to progress to the next round on Sunday night.

Despite feeling off form, she moved from fourth to third after the turn to make the touch in a new personal best time of 1:07.55. Australian Leisel Jones won with a new Olympic record of 1:05.64, and second placed Russian, Yuliya Efimova reduced the European record to 1:06.08

"I felt worse and worse as the race went on and was surprised when I looked up to see it was a PB. I think the first race plays a big role especially in major events. It can only get better from now on," said Van Biljon.