It was my ’mistake’, says Shaun Maswanganyi after SA 4x100m relay mix-up
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CAPE TOWN - Shaun Maswanganyi says he “made the mistake” that led to the baton exchange with Clarence Munyai not going to plan in the 4x100m relay heat at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.
The 20-year-old Maswanganyi was in good form after reaching the 100m and 200m semi-finals earlier this week, and he was set to make up for the injury-enforced absence of Gift Leotlela for the relays.
The SA team were regarded as possible medal contenders after their World Relays triumph earlier in the year, but their campaign fell apart at the very first exchange in heat one on Thursday.
SA 200m record-holder Clarence Munyai had been brought in by relays coach Paul Gorries as a replacement for Leotlela, who suffered a torn hamstring in his 100m semi-final on Sunday.
Maswanganyi was going to tackle the second leg, with Chederick van Wyk the third and Akani Simbine the anchor.
Munyai was out of the blocks well enough from lane seven, and reached Maswanganyi in about fifth position. But in the worst possible situation in a relay, Maswanganyi seemed to move too slowly as Munyai came flying through and handed the baton over.
It resulted in the two athletes’ legs being too close to each other, and Munyai clipped Maswanganyi, who stumbled forward slightly. The University of Houston star managed to hold on to the baton, but he just jogged a few metres before coming to a complete stop.
It was not immediately clear why Maswanganyi didn’t continue running, but he accepted responsibility for the error.
“So, what happened was, essentially – coming into the competition, I was practising exchanges with Gift, you know. I don’t like making excuses, but at the end of the day, I made the mistake,” he said afterwards.
“I didn’t get out in the same way I get out with my other teammates that I was practising with. Obvious unfortunately, Gift got the injury. Obviously last-minute, literally we only started practising with Clarence yesterday. So, I would say I am not used to the exchange with Clarence.
“But there are no excuses, and I should have been better. But there is a lot more to work on, and I always take accountability for my mistakes. I guess it wasn’t meant to be, but I will still put in more work… It’s not over yet.”
In quotes on the Team South Africa website, Maswanganyi added: “The way I practised exchanges with Clarence, who had come in as a replacement for Gift Leotlela, was at the same kind of exchange mark as with Gift.
“Unfortunately, they’re two different athletes, two different runners. I came out (of the handover zone) the same way that I usually do with Gift, who is slightly different to Clarence…
“I guess when it was time for me to take my hand out, he was already on me… so the problem was the exchange. It was (in) the exchange zone between me pushing out and me getting the stick.
“There should have been more practice, but coming into this race, there had been a lot of changes that had to be made because of injuries and there were a lot of complications. We still tried to do what we could, and it was just unfortunate.”