Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Chederick van Wyk’s Olympic dream crushed by relay calamity

The SA 4x100m team had hoped to break the national track and field squad's medal drought at the Games.

The only member of the squad who did not compete in an individual event, sprinter Chederick van Wyk was gearing up for the highlight of his career when he lined up on Thursday in the men’s 4x100m relay heats at the Tokyo Olympics.

But his campaign ended before it began, with Van Wyk and Akani Simbine left stranded on the track after Clarence Munyai was unable to get the baton to Shaun Maswanganyi at the first changeover.

Having won the World Relays title earlier this year, the SA squad had been targeting a place on the podium, but they lost some key athletes ahead of the opening round, including Gift Leotlela who picked up an injury in the 100m semifinals.

Chederick van Wyk Olympics
Chederick van Wyk looks on before the 4x100m relay heats at the Tokyo Olympics. Picture: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images

“I was ready for this one,” said a visibly dejected Van Wyk.

“We were capable of making it through (to the final), no doubt, but it’s all about the exchanges. You can run fast but you’ve got to have the baton.”

Anchored by Simbine, who finished fourth in the 100m final, the SA 4x100m team had hoped to break the national track and field squad’s medal drought at the Games.

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With Leotlela sidelined by injury, however, Munyai and Maswanganyi had only one training session together to practice their exchange ahead of the first round.

And while his teammates had all turned out in individual sprint races earlier at the Games, for 26-year-old Van Wyk, the relay squad’s fumble in the heats meant he would have to wait another three years to try and make his Olympic debut in Paris.

“I don’t have words, but we must keep our heads high and look forward,” said Van Wyk, a former silver medallist at the World Relays and the World Student Games.

“It just wasn’t good enough on this day, but that’s sport.”

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