Blow to SA medal hopes

NOT FAST ENOUGH: Sprinter Thuso Mpuang during the men's 200m final at the Yellow Pages Interprovincial meet at the Bellville Athletics Track in Cape Town recently. Photo: Shaun Roy/Gallo Images
NOT FAST ENOUGH: Sprinter Thuso Mpuang during the men's 200m final at the Yellow Pages Interprovincial meet at the Bellville Athletics Track in Cape Town recently. Photo: Shaun Roy/Gallo Images

Not one of the five individual champions managed Olympic qualifying criteria

South Africa's athletes returned home from the African championships in Benin last night stoked with their third place at the continental competition.

But with only 6 gold medals topping their 24 pieces of silverware, there was little in the performances in Benin to suggest that South Africa are going to dominate the London Olympics.

Not one of the five individual champions - Simon Magakwe (100m), Burger Lambrechts (shot put), Victor Hogan (discus), Chris Harmse (hammer throw) and Lehann Fourie (110m hurdles) - managed Olympic qualifying criteria.

The 4x100m relay team of Magakwe, Hannes Dreyer, Roscoe Engel and Thuso Mpuang won their gold in 39.26sec, which would place them on the world list just behind the University of Tennessee, who are barely in the top 50. The time was slower than the same four runners achieved at the SA Open championships in Pretoria in early May.

The best time in the world for 2012, by the way, is 37.82.

The men's 4x400m relay team, silver medallists at the 2011 world championships, finished second in Africa too.

Ofentse Mogawane, Oscar Pistorius and Willie de Beer, three of the survivors from last year, teamed up with PCBeneke to clock 3min:04.01sec to finish nearly two seconds behind Nigeria.

That places them just above Arizona State University on the world list, but way off the world lead of 03:00.02, which is held by the University of Florida. Medal territory in London is likely to be close to a second, if not more, inside three minutes.

Neither javelin star Sunette Viljoen nor 400m hurdler LJ van Zyl competed in Benin, even though they were scheduled to do so. Van Zyl fell ill. Caster Semenya did not go.

The trio will carry South Africa's track and field hopes in London.

Viljoen has been on song, while Van Zyl and Semenya have yet to hit their straps.

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