Akani Simbine led South Africa’s 4x100m quartet to a dramatic victory at the World Athletics Relays in Poland on Sunday. Simbine, a sub-10 second 100m runner, took over the baton three meters down on Brazil’s Paulo Andre Camilo de Oliveira but snatched victory on the line by a hundredth of a second in a time of 38.71sec.
The race in Silesia, Poland, was so close that the Brazilians were celebrating before the South Africans were announced as winners. The Brazilians’ disappointment was compounded when they were then disqualified for running out of their lane. In an incident-filled race, Ghana was also disqualified and Italy was promoted to second place in a time of 39.21, with Japan third in 39.42.
In the women’s race, a storming run on the back straight by two-time world 200m champion Dafne Schippers gave the Netherlands a huge lead coming into the final changeover but a disastrous exchange left lead-in runner Naomi Sedney trailing in behind Italy who won in 43.79. Junior prodigy Lythe Pillay, Zakithi Nene, Oscar Mavundla, and Ranti Dikgale, meanwhile, ensured South Africa took the fifth spot in the men’s 4x400m final.
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 Tokyo Olympics. The South African 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.