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For an hour it looked as though the journey of Oscar Pistorius and his 4x400m relay teammates was over at the Olympic Games. Ofentse Mogawane has crashed on the last bend before the straight and the South Africans had not finished the race.
Pistorius, who was to run the third leg, waited for Ofentse Mogawane to arrive.
On his right and left the Belgium teams passed on their batons, but there was no sign of the South African.
He, and teammates Shaun de Jager and Willie de Beer, saw a crumpled figure in the distance. It was Mogawane, who had dislocated his shoulder in the fall.
Pistorius walked off the track, his hands on his head, denied what seemed to be a final chance to run in London.
Then came the news, almost 60 minutes later, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had agreed with Team SA’s athletics manager that the Kenyan, Vincent Mumo Kilu, had chopped across Mogawane’s line and obstructed him. The South Africans would be included as a ninth team in the final.
“Man, it’s such a massive relief, I can tell you,” said Pistorius.
“We thought that five or six years of work had gone. We were so absolutely gutted. You work so hard to represent your country and then something like this happens. You don’t expect it to happen at a place like the Olympics, but, ja, it’s the way things happen.”
The IAAF’s statement said that they agreed to advance the SA team, even though they did not finish the race, considering that they had been severely damaged in the incident with Kenya.
The Kenyans did not agree, with Kilu, who had got up and carried on running, claiming he had been “spiked” by Mogawane.
He showed off his running spikes and, indeed, there was a spike mark in them.
He claimed that he had merely been trying to overtake.
Mogawane felt that it had been an “accident” and did not blame the Kenyan.
“I can’t remember what happened. I just remember falling,” said Mogawane, who had to got for a scan on his shoulder.
“We were too close. We were bunching each other and I wanted to overtake the Kenya guy, but we were too close and I tripped him. I don’t think my shoulder is very bad.”
It was bad enough that he was ruled out of the final tomorrow, his place taken by LJ van Zyl. Pistorius is hoping that their second chance will be a magical one.
“We didn’t want it to end this way. We wanted to go out racing. It was the worst feeling ever. We were all pretty gutted.
‘‘We’ve been training as a group for the last five or six years and we know each other pretty much inside out. It’s just not the kinda place you would want something like this to happen,’’ Pistorius said.
‘‘I took my eyes off the screen and kept them on the straight, and obviously just as I took them off it must have happened.
‘‘I looked down the straight, waiting for him. And, initially, he’s not the biggest of guys, and thought he was maybe in behind someone. I carried on looking and looking and then, ja, he didn’t come out.
Tomorrow night they will start in lane one, on the inside.
They will likely begin in the same order, with De Jager first, Van Zyl second, Pistorius third and Willie de Beer taking the final 400m. – The Star