CAPE TOWN - SHAUN Maswanganyi says he will “just keep running my own race” after qualifying for the 200m semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old, who hails from Soweto and is a student at the University of Houston, showed good temperament in his heat earlier on Tuesday when finished second in a time of 20.58 seconds.
Maswanganyi has a lot more in reserve, as he has a personal best of 20.10 that he produced earlier this year, and it was evident in how he held back to ensure he advances without too much effort.
The former Tuks junior athlete went out fast, ahead of favourite Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago. Richards, though, took the lead as he entered the home straight, followed by Taymir Burnet of the Netherlands.
Maswanganyi, though, quickly put on some speed to clinch second behind Richards (20.52), while Burnet ended third in 20.60.
Maswanganyi, though, pushed harder in the closing stages to finish second in 20.58 behind Richards (20.52), with Burnet third in 20.60.
“That was good! Took it nice and easy around the curve. I don’t want to press too hard. I felt Jereem (Richards) was inside. I felt the other guy from the Netherlands was actually staying close with us, but at the end, I got second-place spot,” Maswanganyi said afterwards.
“So, I’m feeling pretty confident, pretty good coming into a semi-final, and I am just going to keep running my own race.”
Maswanganyi already got a taste of the Olympic Stadium in the 100m, where he also reached the semi-finals.
Now he is hoping to go one step further and advance to the final. “Yes, it (the 100m) did (help him). As I said, it got rid of the jitters, and right now, I just need to focus on executing. Good heat, good pace, and on to a semi-final.”
He has been drawn in lane eight in the third semi-final at 2.06pm SA time on Tuesday, where he will be up against the likes of Richards, Canada’s Andre de Grasse – who claimed the 100m bronze medal – former world champion Ramil Guliyev of Turkey, and American Kenny Bednarek, who was the fastest qualifier for the semi-finals in 20.01.
The top two athletes from each of the semi-finals, as well as the two ‘fastest losers’ from the entire field, will go through to Wednesday’s final.
Meanwhile, 2015 bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana was delighted to qualify for the 200m semi-finals as well in a time of 20.78 to finish third in his heat, joining Maswanganyi and Clarence Munyai in the second round.
“Ja, I’m happy, because obviously I have to come back in the evening. I didn’t want to go with them too much if it was going to push me too much. I just wanted to get into a top three,” Jobodwana said after his race.
“Every lane is the same when you get to a semi-final, so that’s all I was worried about.
“Mentally, I’m happy. Physically, I could be better. But this has been a tough season, so I am finally rounding up into shape right now, so I am happy with that.
“I can’t complain – I’m at the Olympics, and I was given a lifeline to be here, and I am just going to make the most of it.”
Jobodwana was knocked out of the first round at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and hopes to go even further in Tokyo.
𝐁![CDATA]>𝐈![CDATA]>𝐆 𝐐 𝐒![CDATA]>𝐄![CDATA]>𝐂![CDATA]>𝐔![CDATA]>𝐑![CDATA]>𝐄![CDATA]>𝐃— #HTownSpeedCity (@UHCougarTF) August 3, 2021
Shaun Maswanganyi will advance to his second Olympic semifinal after clocking a time of 20.58 in the 200m. His time was good for second-place in his heat!#OlympiansMadeHere | #Olympics | #HTownSpeedCity pic.twitter.com/HWmJNQGBxN
“I bombed out first round (in Rio). You’re only as good as your last Olympics! I’m confident. I think I can do better from the heats over here, so I am very confident,” he said.
“I’ve been putting in the work, so now it’s just time to put it together.”
Jobodwana will run in lane three in the first semi-final on Tuesday at 1.50pm SA time, where he will go head-to-head with 17-year-old American sensation Erriyon Knighton, Jamaica’s Rasheed Dwyer and Nigeria’s Divine Oduduru.
SA 200m record-holder Munyai clocked 20.49 to finish fourth in his heat behind winner and world champion Noah Lyles (20.18) of the United States, and qualified for the semi-finals as one of the ‘fastest losers’.
Munyai is in lane two in the first 200m semi-final at 1.50pm SA time on Tuesday, where he will square up against Lyles again, as well as Canada’s Aaron Brown and Liberia’s Joseph Fahnbulleh.