2024 May 08



Athletics Media

Athletics South Africa Offices
Athletics Media
2024 May 08

South Africa stepped on the podium on Monday morning (SA time) to claim a hard-earned silver medal and returned to a rather quiet reception at home on Wednesday  morning. 

This, after the men's 4x400m team lived up to the hype to grab silver on the second and final day of the World Athletics Relays in Bahamas. In turn they dragged the men's 4x100m team with them to also qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris in August this year.

Combining well, the SA quartet of Gardeo Isaacs, Zakithi Nene, Antonie Nortje and Lythe Pillay had grabbed the runner-up spot in the final in 3:00.75. Botswana won gold in 2:59.11 and Belgium took bronze in 3:01.16.

It was South Africa's first medal at the World Athletics Relays since 2019.

Earlier, in the men's 4x100m Olympic qualifying heats, the SA team of Bayanda Walaza, Benjamin Richardson, Bradley Nkoana and Akani Simbine won their race in 38.08. By finishing among the top two in their heat, they secured automatic qualification for the Olympic Games in Paris in August, joining the 4x400m team.

Despite finishing third in the Olympic qualifying heats in 3:15.96, the mixed 4x400m  team of Mthi Mthimkulu, Shirley Nekhubui, Lythe Pillay and Zeney Geldenhuys, did not succeed. Only the top two teams in each heat automatically qualified.

They will need to secure their place as one of the next two fastest teams in the world rankings when the qualifying window closes on 30 June 2024.

But national sprint and relays coach, Paul Gorries, was very upbeat by the overall look of his national team.

"First and foremost, I think generally we did well,  with the 4x400m and 4x100m teams qualifying for the Olympics," Gorries said. "Various things would need to be considered ahead of Olympic team selection though.

"I think we had enough depth to put together a strong squad that could compete for the podium in both the 4x100m and 4x400m events. In the 4x100m relay the bulk of the squad would probably be the four athletes who ran the second round in Bahamas, but we will definitely look at other athletes as well. 

"We also have to look at the schedule of the youngsters (Walaza and Nkoana) with the World U20 Championships being a bit later (in August in Peru). Shaun Maswanganyi will definitely be a factor coming in, and the likes of (Sinesipho) Dambile and (Luxolo) Adams will be considered, so we can look at selecting a strong team going into Paris.

"In the 4x400m, I think the five guys (Isaacs, Nene, Nortje, Pillay and Van Niekerk) did enough to show why they're there, but we will also be looking at more 400m runners to improve the depth of the squad."

In welcoming the team back home, James Moloi the President of Athletics South Africa said: "This is what hunters do when you send them out. They came back with two kills and on the third, missed with a hairs-length. Well done to the coaches and to our manager for excellence at ASA Hezekiel Sepeng for putting this preparation together. 

"We also really thank our national Olympic body SASCOC for coming to the party to fund the relay team programme.  The athletes are encouraged to keep their focus as they continue with their various activities in their international calendar. 

"Not all athletes came back to South Africa as others left from the Bahamas to other destinations around the world. But thank you  to all for a job well done."

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About Athletics South Africa:
Athletics South Africa (ASA) is the national governing body for the sport of athletics (including Track and Field, Cross Country, Road Running and Race Walking) in South Africa, is a member of World Athletics  and the Confederation of African Athletics.  The association was formed in 1995 and is based in Johannesburg.