While there were some promising results in multiple codes, South Africa’s track and field medal hopes were wearing thin on Thursday after the national men’s 4x100m relay team crashed out in the heats at the Tokyo Olympics.
After winning the World Relays title earlier this year, the SA squad had been targeting the country’s first athletics medal at the Games, but they lost some key athletes ahead of the opening round, including Gift Leotlela who picked up an injury in the 100m semifinals.
They didn’t even get through the first changeover, however, with Clarence Munyai unable to get the baton to Shaun Maswanganyi, leaving teammates Chederick van Wyk and Akani Simbine stranded on the track.
“We only started practising with Clarence yesterday, but there are no excuses and I should have done better,” Maswanganyi said afterwards.
In the men’s shot put, former world junior champion Kyle Blignaut further established himself as one of the country’s brightest track and field prospects, finishing sixth in the final.
The 21-year-old athlete launched a 21.00m heave, clearing 21-metres for the third time in his career, in a contest won by American Ryan Crouser with a massive 23.30m Olympic record.
“I think shot put is at an all-time high at the moment, so to be in the top six in the world at a major championship, I feel like that’s an awesome achievement,” Blignaut said.
Elsewhere in the morning session on day 13 of the Games, long-distance swimmer Michael McGlynn finished eighth in the men’s open water marathon.
McGlynn, also 21, completed the 10km race in 1:51:32.7, less than three minutes behind German swimmer Florian Wellbrock, who won gold in 1:48:33.7.
There was not much luck for veteran skateboarder Dallas Oberholzer, however, with the 46-year-old athlete ending 20th in the men’s park competition and missing out on the final.