South Africa's Thando Dlodlo. Tlotliso Gift Leotlela, Clarence Munyai and Akani Simbine celebrate winning the Men's 4x400 Metres Relay final. Photo: Aleksandra Szmigiel/Reuters
South Africa's Thando Dlodlo. Tlotliso Gift Leotlela, Clarence Munyai and Akani Simbine celebrate winning the Men's 4x400 Metres Relay final. Photo: Aleksandra Szmigiel/Reuters

Cyril Ramaphosa on SA World Relay champs: Thank you for displaying sheer sporting excellence

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published May 4, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa has joined the stream of well-wishers who have praised the South African men’s 4x100m relay for winning a gold medal at the World Relays championships in Poland at the weekend.

Team SA, led by Commonwealth Games champion Akani Simbine, produced a thrilling performance in the final in Silesia on Sunday night to clinch victory in a time of 38.71 seconds.

Simbine had to pull out all the stops in the final leg, as he received the baton from Clarence Munyai a few metres behind Brazil. But the 27-year-old never gave up the chase, and beat Paulo de Oliveira by one-hundredth of a second – although Brazil and third-placed Ghana were later disqualified for different infringements.

ALSO READ: Marathon journey made World Relays triumph even sweeter for Akani Simbine and Team SA

It was South Africa’s first ever gold medal at the World Relays, and follows on from the 2001 team that won the world title in Edmonton, Canada.

“Congratulations to #TeamSouthAfrica for securing our first ever gold medal and making us proud at the @WorldAthletics #WorldRelays Championships. Thank you @ThandoDlodlo @TlotlisoL @ClarenceMunyai and @AkaniSimbine for displaying sheer sporting excellence flying the flag high,” Ramaphosa posted on Twitter.

Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa also congratulated the quartet, made up of Simbine, Munyai, Gift Leotlela and Thando Dlodlo.

“We applaud South Africa's #WorldRelays2021 team led by @AkaniSimbine for clinching a gold medal in a sensational victory in the 4x100m race at the World Athletics Relays in Poland. In this breathtaking performance, #TeamSouthAfrica clocked a time of 38.71 seconds,” Mthethwa said on social media.

Despite the tight finish, which saw the teams wait a few seconds before the result was confirmed in favour of South Africa, Simbine felt that he had edged it.

“I knew that I caught him, I knew it was going to be close. I just knew that I ran really well in the conditions – in the cold – and I saw when we crossed the line, it was dead. I was confident when I crossed the line,” he said.

ALSO READ: Akani Simbine on Relays gold medal: ‘I knew I would catch up’

“We are feeling happy, excited. We came here with the goal of actually winning, but just making sure that we can compete at an international level, and hold our heads (high).

“And I’m just happy for the guys… happy that we came here and we did the job. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, looking forward to the guys and the rest of the season. It’s gonna be a good show in the Olympics.”

Munyai added: “It feels good. I’m really happy right now. Trusted the team. We were focused to come out here and win, and we delivered. It’s the next stepping stone towards Tokyo, so I’m really excited for that.

“I don’t want to say too much about Tokyo. We are just going to let our feet do the talking on the track.”

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