Tough luck for Alkana in 110m hurdles, Mashele and Van Rooyen also bow out
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CAPE TOWN – African champion Antonio Alkana was unlucky to miss out on the 110m hurdles semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday.
SA record-holder Alkana would have been confident of securing one of the four automatic qualifying spots in his heat, or at least one of the four ‘fastest losers’ placings on time.
His personal best of 13.11 seconds ranked him as the third fastest athlete in heat five, with only France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (12.95) and American Devon Allen (13.03) having gone quicker.
Alkana made a good enough start out of the blocks, with the quickest reaction time in the field, but then proceeded to hit the second and fourth hurdles that slowed him right down.
Allen took the lead and maintained his advantage to win in a time of 13.21, followed by Martinot-Lagarde in 13.37, Taio Kanai of Japan (13.41) and Paolo dal Molin (13.44).
Alkana was unable to make up the lost ground from the early hurdles, and ended sixth in 13.55, a season’s best for the 31-year-old.
That was the exact time that he ran in the semi-finals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but he hoped to make it through as one of the four ‘fastest losers’ as he looked up anxiously at the big screen at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.
It was not to be, though, as Alkana missed out on the semi-finals by a narrow margin – six one-hundredths of a second (.006) to Brazil’s Gabriel Constantino, who finished fifth in heat one in the same 13.55 time.
Two other South Africans, Precious Mashele (5 000m) and Jason van Rooyen (shot put) also had their Olympic campaigns come to an end on Tuesday.
Mashele stormed into the lead at the 2 000m mark, but was unable to stay in front, fading to 15th position in a time of 13:48.25, with his heat won by Mohamed Katir of Spain in 13:30.10.
Van Rooyen produced two throws of over 20 metres, with a best of 20.29m, and he ended in ninth in Group A, with Group B still to come.