Shaun Maswanganyi. Photo: @tshedzom via Twitter
Shaun Maswanganyi. Photo: @tshedzom via Twitter

There is still time for ’great talent’ Shaun Maswanganyi to qualify for Tokyo Olympics

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published May 18, 2021

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THERE is still time for Shaun Phatutshedzo Maswanganyi to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, and there are spots open in Team South Africa's 100m and 200m squads.

That was the word from national relays coach Paul Gorries yesterday in response to Maswanganyi's extraordinary performances for the University of Houston Cougars at The American Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Tampa, Florida on Sunday.

The 20-year-old Maswanganyi, who attended St Alban's College in Pretoria, streaked ahead of the field in the 100m final to win in a remarkable 9.87 seconds – with the event run from beyond the usual finish line towards the regular starting blocks due to the wind direction.

It would've been a new South African record, but the wind reading of +3.8 metres per second (m/s) meant that the time could not be recognised, so Akani Simbine's mark of 9.89 still stands.

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Maswanganyi followed it up with a blistering run in the 200m as well less than an hour later, stopping the clock at 19.93 seconds.

He was again disappointed by the wind, which was measured at +3.3m/s.

Simbine had a similar experience at the national championships in Pretoria last month, when he ran an incredible 9.82, only to be denied a new SA record due to a wind reading of +2.8m/s, which is above the legal limit of 2.0m/s.

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Maswanganyi, who hails from Soweto, has not yet produced a legal Olympic qualifying 100m mark of 10.05 and 200m time of 20.24 – with bests of 10.06 and 20.31.

He has actually beaten those times, with his 9.87 of Sunday being preceded by a 10.05 in a heat at the same event, while he has clocked 20.14 in the 200m, but the wind intervened on those occasions as well.

“He is obviously a great talent, but we must also bear in mind that those times were wind-assisted, so it's not legal times,” Gorries told Independent Media yesterday.

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“But it's a good indication, and a step in the right direction.

“He backed it up nicely after Gift (Leotlela) ran his 9.94 (on Friday), and remember that Gift's 9.94 was legal.

“But if you look at Gift's first sub10, it was also wind-assisted. And Akani's 9.82 was wind-assisted.

“So, the two best legal times (by a South African) this year is Akani's 9.99 and Gift's 9.94. Look, you never know – come NCAA (Championships in the US), the rate that they are going that side, he might just dip under 10, legally.”

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Gorries added that the cut-off date for the relay squads is June 29, with a preparation group to be named soon.

“If I look at it, there are three spots for qualification, and at this point in time in the 200, it's only Clarence (Munyai) who has qualified,” Gorries said.

“In the 100, it's Akani and now Gift. So, there are spots available in the 100 and 200.

“Whoever runs faster … we know that Akani will probably go faster than 9.99.

“There are only three athletes allowed per event per country, and that is determined by time, so we are going to have to wait and see.”

@ashfakmohamed

IOL Sport

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