SA relay team make final after all
THE South African 4x400-metre relay team was reinstated yesterday after they failed to finish their Olympic heat due to interference and had to appeal against elimination.
"The Kenyan athlete committed an obstruction which is against rule number 163.2 of the International Association of Athletics Federation, so we appealed," said team manager Hezekiel Sepeng.
Shaun de Jager ran the first leg and was in fifth position when he gave the baton to Ofentse Mogawane for the second lap.
Mogawane tripped when Kenya's Vincent Mumo Kiilu cut in front of him. The South African stepped on his opponent's heel and both athletes fell.
De Jager, Mogawane, Oscar Pistorius and Willie de Beer felt crushed after Mogawane stumbled near the 300m mark.
"I just saw myself falling and tumbling and landed on my shoulder and dislocated it," Mogawane said.
"We were all bunched together and in the last 100m everybody wants to make a move. I was too close to the Kenyan guy. I wanted to make my move because he's short and I am tall. I was running with long strides, he was running with short strides and I wanted to overtake him. I bumped into his leg and that is what caused the accident."
Sepeng added: "We will participate as team number nine in the final."
High expectations were placed on the team after they won the silver medal in last year's World Championships in Daegu.
Mogawane's injury has opened the door for 400m hurdler LJ van Zyl to compete in the final after he crashed out of his specialist event last Friday.
Van Zyl said his bags were already packed for the trip back to South Africa after his failure in the hurdles.
Then he saw the relay team's heat.
The team's passage into the final gives De Beer his first opportunity to participate in the Games, as he was the only member of the quartet yet to run.
Pistorius made history last Saturday as the first amputee to compete on the track at the able-bodied Olympics and made it through to the 400m semifinals.