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Mundell 33rd in 50km walk as sprint relay dreams shattered
- Updated: August 29, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
London Olympian Marc Mundell ended 33rd in the men’s 50-kilometre walk but South Africa’s top sprinters failed to ‘walk the talk’ in the 4x100m relay on the penultimate day of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing, China on Saturday.
Mundell clocked 4hr 02min 41sec, some seven minutes outside his personal best (3:55.32) at the 2012 Olympics.
Winner was Slovakia’s Matej Toth in 3:40.32.
Just 38 athletes finished the gruelling walk in warm conditions with 16 not making the finish line at the Bird’s Nest Stadium.
Mundell went through the first 5km in 24:00, 10km in 47:50 and the halfway mark in 1:58.39.
Said Mundell: ‘I wasn’t super happy and was on course through 30km then just fell away from 40. I think I got my hydration slightly/horribly wrong and experienced all kinds of horrible stuff in the last 10km.
‘The winner was 5/6 minutes off his personal best which is an indication of how bad conditions were.
‘I still came away with another Olympic qualifying time/performance but probably left a top 20/25 out there today so pretty disappointed and disillusioned with myself.’
The only other South Africans in action on Saturday were the men’s 4x100m relay squad.
On paper the line-up of joint national 100m record holders Henricho Bruintjies and Akani Simbine, new world championships 200m bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana and up and coming 110m hurdler Antonio Alkana is impressive.
But such is the lottery nature of the relay event that precious little time is really ever given to proper preparation and so many times it all comes a cropper for even the very best countries.
Often relay excellence comes not from necessarily having the fastest runners but having the best prepared runners with liquid motion handovers.
That was the case on Saturday as it all unravelled as early as the first handover between Bruintjies and Jobodwana and South Africa’s race was run. Jobodwana was too quick off the mark and Bruintjies was unable to transfer in time.
That meant Jamaica (sans double world sprint champion Usain Bolt) won their heat in 37.41sec while the United States took honours in the other heat just .050sec slower.
Bruintjies, who like all his team-members, have so much to build on after a great season, said afterwards: ‘Disappointed in the failure… but will bounce back from it way stronger… end of the 2015 season, thanks for the support.’
Added Jobodwana: ‘Relay just didn’t happen for us today, sorry guys. We’re hoping that next time we’re given proper preparation to do our best.’
Sunday will see Sunette Viljoen aiming to add South Africa’s third medal of the championships after Wayde van Niekerk’s 400m gold and Jobodwana’s bronze.
She’ll start the javelin final at 12.45pm SA time after her impressive one-throw qualifying rounds will be full of confidence.
Only other South African in action will be Tanith Maxwell in the women’s marathon (1.30am SA time).
Meanwhile Olympic decathlete Willem Coertzen was left trying to explain his dropping out after four events on Friday.’
‘I really have no idea why but my body just didn’t pitch up for the competition. It was nothing serious or an injury but I was just physically and emotionally flat,’ he told Road to Rio 2016.
‘I think I was maybe here way too long before my competition and I’m not used to sitting around doing nothing, I usually fly in three days before, compete and am out again.
‘It’s just very frustrating as everything built up to this competiton and it’s just such a let down not being able to give it my best… such below par performances, and actually today I feel even worse than yesterday,’ said Coertzen.
South Africa’s 100m semi-finalist Carina Horn is now back home and the joint national 100m champion had time to reflect on her first World Championships.
‘The whole experience was amazing. I was relieved with my 11.08 in the heats and was hoping the semis would go better because obviously we all have goals and standards,’ she told Road to Rio 2016.
‘I wasn’t too happy with my semi-final but the coach is – his goals was also to get to the semi. You know what it’s like, you always want something more.
‘This will just make me work that much harder. An amazing experience ended up with me being 17th fastest women’s 100m racer in the world!
‘So I’m very happy with achievements this year, now everything is just another step further.’
Horn will now busy herself with preparing for duty with Team South Africa at the African Games in Brazzaville, Congo which start next Friday.
Picture of the SA men’s relay team shortly after their disappointing exit courtesy of Getty Images.