Sport

ATHLETICS

SA sprinters finish strongly at World Relays to qualify for Olympics

SA sprinters finish strongly at World Relays to qualify for Olympics
From left: Lythe Pillay of South Africa in action at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest. / Akani Simbine of South Africa at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest. / Zakithi Nene of South Africa at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest. (Photos: Anton Geyser / Gallo Images)

South Africa’s men’s 4x400m and 4x100m teams secured Olympic berths with good performances in the Bahamas.

South Africa secured a hard-earned silver medal in the men’s 4x400m at the World Athletics Relays at Nassau in the Bahamas at the weekend. 

The team, composed of Gardeo Isaacs, Zakithi Nene, Lythe Pillay and Antonie Nortje, finished in 3:00.75 to take second place, behind neighbours Botswana who came first in 2:59.11.

Pillay received the baton in fourth place heading into the final lap, but expertly made up ground on Italy and Belgium to secure silver. 

Belgium closed out the podium with a time of 3:01.16. 

Botswana’s victory prevented the US from making a clean sweep at the World Relays.  

South Africa’s star 400m athlete Wayde van Niekerk took part in the heats but sat out the final due to a niggle he was carrying. US-based Nortje took his place.

Botswana’s star quartet of Busang Collen Kebinatshipi, Letsile Tebogo, Leungo Scotch and Bayapo Ndori will enter the Games as early favourites, but South Africa’s rapid four will have reason to be confident after taking them all the way in the heats. 

The South African men’s 4x100m team — Akani Simbine, Bradley Nkoana, Bayanda Walaz and Benjamin Richardson — also qualified for the Games with a speedy 38.08 run in the second qualifying dash, coming first on Sunday. It was the fourth-fastest time by a South African 4x100m team.

South Africa’s team in the mixed 4x400m qualifiers failed to book a berth at the Olympics, finishing third in both races wherein the top two qualified directly. 

Their hopes of going to Paris are not dashed, however. They could qualify through their ranking for the season. DM

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