03 May The best is yet to come
SOUTH AFRICA ARE WORLD 4 X 100M CHAMPIONS
“Tonight’s achievements are a clear indication that we know what we are doing and this is only the beginning. The best is yet to come. We are number one in the world out of 115 member countries and we have fulfilled what others before us have failed to do, while others make empty promises about what they think they, when in fact, they can’t even handle the current smaller responsibilities they have.
Taking over in second place on the final leg, SA record holder Akani Simbine managed to chase down the Brazilian team in the home straight. With Simbine dipping on the line in 38.71, the SA quartet that also included Thando Dlodlo, Gift Leotlela and Clarence Munyai, secured victory by 0.01 against Brazil. Brazil, however, was later disqualified, giving Italy the silver medal in 39.21.
Simbine’s run over the last 100 metres coming from behind to pip Brazil’s Paulo de Oliveira on the finish line gave new meaning to making every centimetre count. The Tuks based Leotlela attributed their heroics to hard work, belief, confidence and trust.
“If a team has got that, there are no limits. Throughout the championships, the weather was atrocious. During our final, the temperature was 7 degrees. It drizzled as well. But we knew the weather is as it is. There is nothing we can do about it.
“All we had to do is trust each other. I think that is what got us through the race. The speed was there. Our challenge was to pass the baton without making mistakes.”
An ecstatic Simbine described it as doing the “job”.
“We came to Poland with the idea to win a medal. And we did.”
In the men’s 4x400m final, junior prodigy Lythe Pillay, Zakithi Nene, Oscar Mavundla and Ranti Dikgale took fifth position. Having progressed as the third quickest team in the heats the day before, they completed the four-lap race in 3:05.76 and have automatically qualified for the Olympic Games
in Tokyo, Japan scheduled for 23 July 2021.
The national mixed 4x400m team – Ranti Dikgale, Simon Khuzwayo, Deline Mpiti (woman) and Taylon Bieldt (woman) – were sixth in their heat in 3:19.18 on Saturday’s opening day of competition and therefore did not qualify for a place in the final.
“Congratulations to coach Paul Gorries, athletes, manager Danie Cornelius and all medical staff that has been supporting them,” said Skhosana.
“I am over the moon as the President of Athletics South Africa because some people had not seen this project as viable and had strongly opposed it. And when I went to Tshwane to talk about housing the coach, athletes and getting all the required
services, those opposing did not see this line of thinking.
“I knew where I was going with this and today I’m so proud that the boys have made this country proud. Two teams have qualified for the Olympic Games and we are also world champions in the 4x100m. The last time our Rainbow Nation won the 4x400m event was in 2001 at the World
Championships. I also must dedicate this gold medal and the 4x400m Olympic qualifier to the University of Pretoria for their remarkable contribution and for believing in my vision. Deeds and not lip service is what our focus has been all about. While others talk about what they want to do, we
are doing and producing results.
“We are moving athletics forward. We know what needs to be done and have been doing it, and not just in the confinement of some province. Our results are there to be seen not only in South Africa but throughout the world. So, let us be allowed to celebrate the fruits of good work and a fulfilled mandate,” he added.