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Stumbling Bolt makes 100m final but SA trio drop out at championships
- Updated: August 23, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
On a night that nearly saw sprint superstar Usain Bolt stumble right out of the men’s 100-metre event, it was three South Africans who dropped out of their respective events on a hot Beijing evening at the IAAF World Athletics Championships.
Bolt, running in the first of three semi-finals after being welcomed by an excitable crowd, had taken only about eight strides before he lost his stride and rhythm… and a whole lot of ground.
But the giant Jamaican, by now accustomed to a slowish start, made up the ground from then on in and pipped the field with a grimace on the line to win in 9.95sec and ensure automatic qualification as the first two from each semi-final.
Just two lanes from where the drama was taking place, SA’s Henricho Bruintjies was right on the outside. In the biggest race of his career, he ran well given the pressure but won’t be happy with his finishing time of 10.21 for seventh spot.
The second semi saw the second South African in action, Akani Simbine, pictured above with Simbine, joint national record-holder with Bruintjies.
He fared slightly better both in terms of position and time, his fourth spot coming in 10.02sec as the world’s quickest man this year, Justin Gatlin won in 9.77, the fastest time of the semi-finals. Second was fellow American Michael Rogers in 9.96.
The third and final semi went to Tyson Gay in 9.96 from the prolific sub-10sec ace, Asafa Powell. The Jamaican was just 0.01sec behind the American.
All nine finalists dipped under the 10-sec barrier with three bracketed on 9.99, France’s Jimmy Vicaut, American Trayvon Bromell and home town hero Bingtian Su, whose time was a national record. Simbine and Bruintjies’ SA record stands at 9.97.
Earlier LJ van Zyl was well off the pace in his bid to make the final of the 400m hurdles event.
He started in the second of three semi-finals with only the first two in each semi guaranteed of a spot in the final.
Going into the semis on the back of a 49.12 heat, he couldn’t produce his customary strong finish and trailed in sixth in 48.89 in a heat won by Russia’s Denis Kudryatsev in a personal best of 48.23 from Bahama’s Jeffery Gibson in 48.37.
Shock of the one-lap hurdles was another big name blowing up and not going further. After Bershawn Jackson had failed to even reach the semis, the fastest man left in the line-up, Johnny Dutch joined his American counterpart on the sidelines as he ended just 0.15sec ahead of Van Zyl in fifth spot.
Van Zyl’s time was 15th of 24 semi-finalists. Quickest through to the final was Kudryatsev.
Earlier in the morning action Carina Horn had reached the women’s 100m semi-finals with her 11.08 third spot to Shelly-Ann Frazer-Pryce in the heat.
She told Road to Rio 2016: ‘The heats went very well, I thought. It could have probably gone a bit better because there was another false start in my race.
‘So that made things drag out a bit longer. But my heat was a nice strong heat so I’m ready for tomorrow.
‘It’s a nice “bouncy” track so I must just use it well and stay focused for tomorrow’s big semi-final.’