Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

SA relay hopes dashed by positive Covid tests at Commonwealth Games

The national 4x100m relay team secured the silver medal at the previous edition of the Games on Australia's Gold Coast in 2018.

South Africa are likely to miss out on the men’s 4x100m relay event at the Commonwealth Games this week after two key members of the sprint squad were withdrawn following positive Covid tests.

Team management confirmed on Tuesday – on the opening day of the track and field competition at the Games – that sprinters Clarence Munyai and Emile Erasmus would not compete in Birmingham.

Munyai, the SA 200m record holder, had also been entered in the men’s individual 100m event.

Without the duo, the SA squad did not have the depth to compete in the relay event, shutting down one of the country’s medal hopes after the 4x100m squad had secured the silver medal at the previous edition of the Games on Australia’s Gold Coast in 2018.

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While the national team featured world-class sprinters Akani Simbine, Henricho Bruintjies and Gift Leotlela, they had no other specialist sprinters to fill the last spot in the 4x100m quartet.

In-form 200m runner Luxolo Adams had initially been included in the squad for the Games but he withdrew ahead of the showpiece, citing fatigue, while 400m world record holder Wayde van Niekerk – also useful over the 100m distance – did not qualify for the Commonwealth spectacle.

Long jumper Cheswill Johnson, who was in the team, was quick enough to provide real value to the relay squad if needed, but team management suggested this might not be not an option.

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“Team SA is unlikely to be able to field a 4x100m men’s relay team, an event in which they were one of the medal favourites,” the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee said in a statement.

It was also confirmed that pole vaulter Kyle Rademeyer had been withdrawn from the national team ahead of the athletics competition, also testing positive for Covid.

Sprinter Zakhithi Nene, who was set to compete in the men’s 400m event, had displayed symptoms and would be tested again on Tuesday.

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athletics Commonwealth Games