ROCKET MAN SIM­BINE

Fly­ing fin­ish sees SA re­lay team claim sil­ver

The Sunday Independent - - Sport - OCKERT VIL­LIERS

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.

PIC­TURE: AP

BA­TON CHARGE: Eng­land’s Harry Aikines-Ary­eetey, left, leads South Africa’s Akani Sim­bine to win the 4x100m re­lay.

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