SA Relay team flies in Japan despite hiccups
Highly rated 4x100m outfit slowed slightly by poor handovers
SA's Commonwealth Games silver medal relay team did the job despite coming up short at the World Relays yesterday.
The men's 4x100m outfit - which is touted as contenders for the Olympic podium next year - ended fourth in their heat at Yokohama, Japan, slowed down by their handovers.
The women's 4x100m team failed to get around the lap after Justine Palframan and anchor Tebogo Mamatu botched the final baton transfer.
But the men's 4x400m team finished second in their heat behind reigning world champions Trinidad and Tobago to qualify for today's eight-lane final.
All they have to do now to book their tickets to the world championships in Doha from September 28 to October 6 is to finish without getting disqualified.
Gardeo Isaacs led the opening lap, but the Caribbean team - featuring two of the stars who claimed gold at London 2017 - took the lead on the first handover and Ranti Dikgale, Pieter Conradie and Ashley Hlungwani were unable to claw it back.
SA's 3min 02.77sec was the fifth fastest of the day and they could still go quicker when new national champion Thapelo Phora slots in today.
This team could become a world force if one were to add a fit Wayde van Niekerk, whose return from injury is said to be imminent, and US-based Derick Mokaleng, who was unavailable for selection.
Ironically, the men's 4x100m team are already on the plane to Doha, despite not making today's final.
With the top 10 teams in Yokohama qualifying for the championships, SA's ninth position overall wins them a spot. And there's no pressure today like trying not to drop the baton; they can put their feet up and cheer their teammates on heartily.
The side featured three of the sprinters who finished second in a 38.24 national record in Gold Coast last year.
The only new face was Simon Magakwe in place of the injured Henricho Bruintjies.Emile Erasmus started, but he had to stretch to find Magakwe on the handover. Anaso Jobodwana's delivery to Akani Simbine also seemed a little laboured.Despite these hiccups they still clocked a reasonable 38.66 to miss out on a fastest loser's spot in the final by just one position, or by 0.15sec.Some of them, like Simbine and Jobodwana, will run the fun 4x200m relay today - a non-Olympic event - but otherwise they've completed their primary goal.SA's relay success has been sparse at the world championships, with a 4x100m gold in 2001, 4x400m silver in 2011 and 4x400m bronze in 1999.Simbine is set to compete in his first 100m sprint of the season at the Diamond League meet in Shanghai on Saturday.But he faces a tough challenge against American star Christian Coleman, as well as Chinese hero Su Bingtian and Briton Reece Prescod.Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai will be in action in the long jump and will mix it with China's Asian Games champion Wang Jianan.Olympic silver medallist Sunette Viljoen competes in the women's javelin.