Storming around the track in record time, the South African men’s 4x200m team earned the country’s first ever medal at the IAAF World Relays, closing out the Rainbow Nation’s campaign in style in Yokohama, Japan on Sunday.
Consisting of Simon Magakwe, Chederick van Wyk, teenager Sinesipho Dambile and powerhouse anchor Akani Simbine, the SA quartet covered the two-lap final in 1:20.42, breaking the African record which had been set by the national squad in the heats.
The United States held off a late charge from the South Africans to win gold in 1:20.12.
Earlier, the quartet of Jon Seeliger, Anaso Jobodwana, Dambile and Van Wyk had clocked 1:20.64 to win their first-round heat, smashing the continental record of 1:22.06 set by SA’s Marcus la Grange, Mathew Quinn, Josef van der Linde and Paul Gorries in Port Elizabeth in March 2002.
In the men’s 4x400m final, the SA team took sixth position in 3:05.32, with Gardeo Isaacs, Pieter Conradie, Ranti Dikgale and Ashley Hlungwani doing enough to secure South Africa a place at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar in September.
They now join the national men’s 4x100m team at the showpiece in Doha, with Simbine having led the short sprint squad to ninth place overall in the heats of the event on Saturday. Competing at the World Relays for the first time, the SA team earned 10 points to finish in 14th place in the final standings.
“We have achieved the goals we set ourselves, which was to reach the podium,” said an excited Aleck Skhosana, the President of Athletics South Africa.
“Our silver medal will inspire all athletes who are looking to be selected to run the 4x400m for the World Championships in Doha, Qatar in September.
“We are quite proud of all athletes, coaches and team management for a job well done considering we were entering the World Relays for the first time. It is also a good story to tell that we have two relay teams who have qualified and set the continental record twice in one day.”