SA Women’s impressive London Streak ends in Slow Relay

(L-R) Burundi's Francine Niyonsaba, Ethiopia's Habitam Alemu and South Africa's Gena Löfstrand compete in the women's 800m athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 10, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD

The impressive streak by South Africa’s track women at the world championships in London ended on Saturday when the 4x400m relay team failed to qualify for the final.

They were the slowest team to finish of the heats‚ their 3min 37.82sec being more than 10 seconds slower than the slowest qualifier for Sunday’s final. Even the 3:28.49 SA record set in Durban last year would have been insufficient‚ lifting them to 12th overall from their 13th.

Two teams were disqualified and one didn’t finish. he SA foursome featured two of the members from the record-setting team‚ Justine Palframan and anchor Wenda Nel. Gena Lofstrand and Ariane Nel‚ running second and third‚ completed the outfit.

SA team management filed an appeal‚ requesting they be pushed into the final because Lofstrand was impeded by a runner from Bahamas who clipped the South African’s ankle and tumbled over‚ losing her baton.

Lofstrand stumbled a little‚ but kept her balance and carried on‚ baton firmly in hand.
Officials rejected the appeal saying the obstruction did not affect the overall result and the team’s time was too far from a qualifying position.

“While there was contact between the [Bahama] and [South African] athletes‚ the jury’s view is that the South African was not prevented from qualifying for the final by this.”
Apart from the relay‚ SA’s five women selected for individual track events in London all advanced beyond the heats.

Caster Semenya was the only one to reach finals‚ in the 1500m and 800m‚ but Nel (400m hurdles)‚ Palframan (200m)‚ Carina Horn (100m) and Lofstrand (800m) advanced to the semifinals.

That’s a better strike rate than SA’s 13 track and field men who competed in events featuring qualifying rounds‚ with just five advancing.

Semenya will be SA’s last athlete in action‚ bidding to win SA’s sixth medal in the 800m on Sunday night.Lebogang Shange participates in the men’s 20km race walk in the afternoon.