South Africa's Clarence Munyai, rear, celebrates as teammate Akani Simbine heads to the finish line during the men's 4x100 meter relay at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, on Friday. Photo: AP Photo/Martin Meissner

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa bowed out of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha without making it onto the medals table.

The result is in stark contrast to the previous edition of the global showpiece in London two years ago when the team finished third overall courtesy of three gold medals, a silver and two bronze.

The team’s medal-less run marks the first time since Osaka 2007 that South Africa will return empty-handed.

There were glimmers of hope, but the athletes could not convert the potential into accolades.

Akani Simbine and Luvo Manyonga came oh close to stepping onto the podium after finishing fourth in their respective finals.

The 4x100m relay quartet finished fifth in the final, while long jumper Ruswahl Samaai and marathoner Stephen Mokoka also settled for top-five placings.

Mokoka finished just 18 seconds outside a podium spot when finishing fifth in 2hr 11min 09sec, representing the country’s best result in the marathon at the world championships.

The country went into these championships without two of their prolific medallists, with Caster Semenya and Wayde van Niekerk unable to defend their titles.

South Africa’s chances of bagging a medal suffered an early blow last Saturday when Manyonga and Samaai missed the podium after finishing first and third at the previous championships. Manyonga’s best jump of 8.28 metres was six centimetres short of Cuban Juan Miguel Echevarria’s bronze medal leap.

The men’s 100m also had a controversial undertone with American champion Christian Coleman running under a cloud of suspicion. Coleman had been cleared of a doping violation ahead of the championships after he had missed three doping tests in 12 months.

Taking advantage of his new-found freedom, Coleman raced to victory in 9.74 seconds, the sixth-fastest time ever.

Simbine, who made it into his second consecutive world championships 100m final, produced his best result by finishing fourth in a time of 9.93.

Half-lap specialists, former world bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana and Clarence Munyai, made it into the 200m semi-finals.

The 4x100m relay team served up one of the highlights of the championships by shattering the South African and continental record in the semi-finals with the joint-eighth fastest time ever of 37.65sec.

The quartet of Simbine, Simon Magakwe, Thando Dlodlo and Munyai could not reproduce the run in the final, finishing fifth in a time of 37.73.

The result would nevertheless serve as an example of what can be achieved when there is some pre-planning and training involved.

Three members of the relay team, excluding Munyai, were drilled ahead of the championships. It is no coincidence that the changeover involving Munyai did not go as smoothly as the others.


The Star

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