ROCKET MAN SIMBINE
Flying finish sees SA relay team claim silver
SOUTH Africa wrapped up its track and field medal haul at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games with the men’s 4x100m relay team winning silver in a new national record time yesterday.
The country’s athletes won a total of 14 medals – five gold, four silver and five bronze – leaving them in joint-third place with just today’s marathons left on the programme which do not feature any South Africans.
The relay quartet produced the goods on the night with newly crowned Commonwealth 100m champion Akani Simbine carrying the baton over the line in second place with a time of 38.24sec. The team shaved 0.11sec off the record the team of
Simon Magakwe, Bruintjies, Simbine and Ncincilili Titi posted four years ago.
Simbine had it all to do with England and Australia in front and with Jamaican Yohan Blake receiving his baton practically at the same time as him. Blake on his inside was no match for his speed, he chased down the Aussie and was gaining on England’s Harry Aikines-Aryeetey but was just pipped at the line.
“I still want to see if there is a replay on, but I know I chased those guys down and we were pretty far behind,
“All that was in my head was ‘just get in front, just get in front, just catch’ and I remember seeing Blake coming up and I said, ‘no ways is he going to get me this time’. I moved, and I was getting close to Harry of England and I was just like ‘give me 10 metres more’, but the 10 metres didn’t come. I am just really happy that we could get a medal for South Africa.”
Simbine said he surprised himself with his storming run where he nearly caught Aikines-Aryeetey but still managed to outrun everyone else in that home stretch.
“I knew I could finish really strong, but I didn’t think I could finish that strong because that was really, really strong and I actually surprised myself.
“It is just the beginning of the season and my top-end speed is looking really well and I am just happy that I could come here and run and represent South Africa.”
Breaking the record was quite an achievement for a team that had practised only four times before the final.
Bruintjies said South Africa can beat the best nations in the world and push for even faster times if the relay team spends more time racing and training together.
“If we can get a couple more sessions in then we can be unbeatable. Practice makes perfect so if we can get the changeovers right I don’t think anybody will be able to beat us,” Bruintjies said.
South Africa finally delivered on its promise as a possible relay powerhouse after years of bungling by administrators in creating opportunities for the country’s top sprinters to combine as a team.
At the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, the relay team failed dismally due to a lack of preparation when a mistake at the first changeover between Bruintjies and Jobodwana ended their charge for silverware in the heats.
The country did not send teams to the IAAF World Relays in 2014, 2015, and 2017, therefore failing to capitalise on the rising sprinting revolution.
South Africa has produced five sub-10 second athletes since 2014 but it is yet to transform this into relay success.
“From 2014 these guys have built a culture in the relay team, a culture where we know what we are capable of as a team,” Jobodwana said.
“Being part of a team is always great even though we compete as individuals, but if we are all wearing the green and gold we are doing it for the country then it is always a big thing in South Africa.”
Meanwhile, African javelin champion Phil-Mar Janse van Rensburg came tantalisingly close to stepping onto the podium.
Janse van Rensburg finished fourth in the final with a best heave of 79.83m, less than a metre short of his personal best.
He would have had to improve his PB by two metres for a chance of a medal with Anderson Peters of Grenada taking the bronze with an 82.20m throw.
BATON CHARGE: England’s Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, left, leads South Africa’s Akani Simbine to win the 4x100m relay.