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Alkana into 60m semi’s as relay quartet fall short at world’s

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By Mark Etheridge

South Africa’s 4×400-metre relay team fell short in their bid to make the final of their event at the IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships in Portland, Oregon late on Saturday night… but it wasn’t all bad news.
That’s because 60m hurdler Antonio Alkana progressed through the heats with a fourth spot in his heat.
South Africa’s relay team were one of seven sides contesting six spots in the final.
They went off in the first heat against Belgium (with the three Borlee brothers again doing duty), Trindidad and Tobago and the Bahamas.
Thapelo Pharo carried the baton first and was third after the first two laps of the tight 200m track. But ‘veteran’ Ofentse Mogawane then slipped back to fourth and despite their best efforts Jon Seeliger and 2012 Olympian Shaun de Jager were unable to claw their way back.
Their combined time was 3min 08.45sec and with all three sides in the second heat – USA (3:05.41), Jamaica (3:07.30) and Nigeria (3:07.98) quicker than the Africans it was game over. Consolation was that it was a national 4x400m indoor record for South Africa.
On to Alkana and he had the satisfaction of a personal best over the short hurdles sprint.
He went off in the first of four heats and took fourth in 7.76sec as the Virgin Islands’ Eddie Lovett won in a season’s best 7.63. Fastest of the heats was France’s Pascal Martinet-Lagarde in 7.48.
Alkana will now contest the semi-finals on Sunday evening (SA time) while long jumper Ruswahl  Samaai is one of 14 long jump finalists.
Team coach Jaun Strydom told Road to Rio 2016: ‘Samai looked good in his speed session on Saturday and was perfect on the plank Friday during training. Everyone’s exited.’


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