LOOKS LIKE SOUTH AFRICA’S HEAD COACH, FORMER EAST GERMAN STASI SPY ETC ETC, DR EKKART ARBEIT, HAS HAD A MAJOR IMPACT ON SOUTH AFRICAN ATHLETICS DURING THE `12-MONTHS SINCE HE STARTED GIVING THE ORDERS AND MEDDLING IN THE LOCAL COACHES’ PREPARATIONS. :rolleyes: kk
South Africa’s hopes of getting their three hurdling musketeers into the final of the 400m hurdles were dashed in a 30 minute nail-biting epic at the World Athletics Championships in Osaka, Japan, on Saturday.
The biggest shock came in the first heat when LJ van Zyl failed to recognise the standard of his first round competition.
A distraught van Zyl summed it up: “After the fifth hurdle I passed the American (Williams) and started to ease down then four guys passed me and I am out of the final. What can I say? Yeah, lessons learnt.”
Right from the blocks he lacked his usual snap, and adopted the abnormal tactic of accelerating along the back straight to come off the bend in third. Even when he realised things were amiss, his dip for the line was mistimed, allowing both Poland’s Marak Plawgo and China’s Yan Meng to take third and fourth, and leaving the hapless Tukkies man in search of qualification as one of four fastest losers.
It went from bad to worse in the second heat with Alwyn Myburgh being forced out on the back straight with a recurrence of his groin injury.
A fast third heat led home by Jamaican Danny McFarlane in 48.91 pulled Russian Alexandr Derevyagin and Japan’s Dai Tamesue under 49.71 placing them fifth and sixth and securing their qualifying places ahead of van Zyl.
De Villiers’ fourth heat was cut to seven athletes by the withdrawal of Ali Obaid Shirook and the tension was turned up a notch when the South African false started.
On the second time of calling Canadian Adam Kunkel won the heat, with Greek Periklis Iakovasis in second and de Villiers safely tucked in third. However one more place was etched from van Zyl’s life line leaving one heat and one place in contention.
A season’s best 48.70 by Olympic Champion Felix Sanchez saw Mali’s Ibahim Maiga earn a fifth placed 49.55 shutting the door on van Zyl’s aspirations and leaving only de Villiers to carry South Africa’s hopes into Sunday night’s semifinals.
“We always take each race as it comes… My biggest race is tomorrow night and I know I will have to run a PB to get into the final, - that’s my goal,” said De Villiers.
Six of the World’s current top 10 remain in the competition and with Bershawn Jackson, Sanchez and Iakovakis drawn alongside de Villiers in the second of three semi-finals his work is cut out for him.
“If you cant come out and perform you don’t belong in the semifinals, it was an awful time. The most important thing is not to lose confidence and to go home and refocus,” that was the philosophy of sprinter Sherwin Vries who having impressed in the mornings first round qualifier, failed to make the grade through the quarterfinals.
Despite a faster reaction time and early speed Vries was overhauled mid race with Churandy Martina taking the line in a season’s best of 10.10.
World record holder Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay, the current World leader made light of their progression to the semis and with Derrick Atkins, Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis Francis coming to form, and Matic Osovnikar setting a new Slovenian record of 10.13 for the fifth fastest qualifier the 100m excitement is reaching a crescendo.
Hammer thrower, Chris Harmse, was South Africa’s final athlete on the field of play, but his first throw of 71.07 metres followed by two no throws failed to take him to the final. The top performance came from Miloslav Konopka of the Slovak Republic whose second round throw delivered a seasons best of 79.83 metres.