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Van Zyl, Simbine and Bruintjies live to fight another day in China
- Updated: August 22, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
The South African team survived a tough first day of action at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing, China on Saturday.
The team took a few tough body blows as at least three track athletes fell by the wayside on hot Beijing day.
After just one (Desmond Mokgobu) of three SA starters finished the marathon early on, Rynardt van Rensburg’s 1min 48.61sec wasn’t good enough to see him through to the next round of the 800m in this the highest profile competition he’s taken part in.
Afternoon action saw 2006 Commonwealth champion LJ van Zyl book his place in the next round of the 400m hurdles as he ended third in the second of five heats. His 49.12sec saw him comfortably through as an automatic choice as the first three in each heat went through.
But the next heat saw compatriot and reigning Commonwealth champion Cornel Fredericks failing to come out and take his place in the starting blocks. And while there was no confirmation from team management it seems his Achilles tendon problems may not be something of the past.
Big shock of the hurdles heats was that the fastest man in the world this year, American Bershawn Jackson ended second last in his heat and his 50.14 was nowhere near quick enough to take him through on time alone.
Kenyan Nicholas Bett’s 48.57 in the first heat was quickest qualifier and Van Zyl’s time 15th fastest of 22 through to the second round. Jackson could only clock the 34th quickest time.
On to the 100m heats and it was Akani Simbine who was the next South African to progress as his third spot in heat two saw him cross the line in a solid 10.09 as Asafa Powell of Jamaica won the heat in 9.95.
But there was more opening day disappointment for South Africa as former SA 200m recordholder and Olympic 200m finalist, Anaso Jobodwana was too quick out of the blocks, false started and received an automatic red card.
However Simbine’s joint SA recordholder Henricho Bruintjies soon put some smiles back on SA faces as he emulated his fellow sprinter with third spot in the sixth heat.
Running alongside controversial American Justin Gatlin, Bruintjies had a solid enough start but came through nicely over the last 30m or so to clock 10.07 and live to fight another day. Gatlin won in 9.83.
In the final heat of the nine heats Olympic and world recordholder Usain Bolt looked the epitome of confidence as he had a solid start, hit the front around halfway and eased up to clock 9.96 and give Gatlin (world leader with 9.74 this year) something to keep thinking about.
Gatlin’s 9.83 was quickest into the next round, Bolt’s 9.96 fifth fastest and Bruintjies and Simbine went through 16th and 17th respectively.
Stephen Mokoka was the final South African in action on Saturday, running the 10,000m track final. He ended 20th in 28min 27.40sec as Britain’s Mo Farah, another athlete with doping suspicion hanging over his coaching entourage, won in 27:01.13 from Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworwor (27.01.76).