Akani Simbine anchors SA to maiden World Relays medal
Akani Simbine anchored South Africa to their first-ever World Relays medal on Sunday‚ producing a storming finish to secure the 4x200m silver behind the US in Yokohama‚ Japan.
Jon Seeliger‚ Anaso Jobodwana‚ Sinesipho Dambile and Chederick van Wyk showed great intent in their heat when they fought back from third place at the halfway mark to score a large victory in a 1min 20.64sec SA record.
They took more than a second off the 17-year-old 1:22.06 mark set by Marcus La Grange‚ Mathew Quinn‚ Josef van der Linde and Paul Gorries‚ the coach in charge of the SA team this weekend.
For the final Gorries replaced Seeliger and Jobodwana with Simbine and Simon Magakwe‚ and the combination went even quicker‚ lowering the mark to 1:20.42.
Germany was third in a 1:21.26 national record.
Simbine‚ Magakwe and Jobodwana have all won SA 200m titles over the years — Simbine is the reigning champion — but the team that ran wasn’t SA’s strongest potential line-up.
Of the six only Jobodwana‚ the 2015 world championship 200m bronze medallist‚ and Simbine have ended one of the last three seasons ranked among the four fastest SA sprinters over this distance.
Wayde van Niekerk‚ Clarence Munyai‚ Luxolo Adams and recently retired Ncincilili Titi have struggled with injuries.
But this is a fun event that’s rarely staged; it’s not on offer at the world championships nor the Olympics.
The 4x100m and the 4x400m relays are what really count.
Although SA managed no silverware in these races this weekend‚ the two men’s outfits qualified for the world championships in Doha later this year.
The 4x400m team ended sixth in the A final on Sunday to secure their spot in Qatar from September 28 to October 6.
The men’s 4x100m team qualified in the heats on Saturday‚ their ninth spot overall booking their tickets.
The SA women’s 4x100m outfit missed out at the weekend and withdrawals scuppered hopes of fielding a mixed gender 4x400m.
Teams can still qualify for the world championships on rankings.
At the world championships the top-eight teams in each relay will automatically qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
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