A tale of two South Africans at London championships

13 August 2017 - 00:00 By DAVID ISAACSON in London

Medals have been plentiful, but the South African story in London has also been about guts.
Since Akani Simbine fought his way into the 100m final after he so nearly failed to advance out of the heats on the opening day of the world championships on Friday last week, some of his teammates have come out battling like gladiators.
Long-jumper Ruswahl Samaai leapt his way to the bronze medal on his penultimate attempt of competition and Caster Semenya sneaked her 1,500m bronze by seven-hundredths of a second.
Wayde van Niekerk squeaked into the 200m final by two-hundredths of a second.
Away from the podium, Gena Lofstrand earned the last spot in the women's 800m semifinals after a brave outing in the heats.
For Van Niekerk, who retained his 400m crown with relative ease, it allowed him to win two individual sprint medals, a feat no South African has achieved at any major international meet.Tonight Semenya will attempt to land her second medal of the championships, this time in her premier 800m, an event in which her rivals have been closing the gap.
Just 0.34sec separates the top three 800m runners in the world this year, with Semenya on top with her recently improved 1min 55.27sec national record, ahead of Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi (1:55.47) and Ajeé Wilson of the US. The American will be inspired by her 3,000m steeplechase teammates who took medals this week.At Paris 2003, the four medallists were among nine athletes who achieved top-eights.
There are various reasons for this, such as injury and lack of form in the case of javelin-thrower Sunette Vijoen and 200m star Anaso Jobodwana, both bronze medallists from the last championships in Beijing in 2015.
It didn't help that ASA omitted 14 athletes who had qualified for London by achieving the IAAF standards. They fell short of the federation's tougher criteria.

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