I didn't have time to practice exchanges with Clarence - Maswanganyi after Team SA 4x100m relay mess
As Team South Africa continue the hunt for a first athletics medal at #Tokyo2021, Shawn Maswanganyi has weighed in on the confusion that saw the 4x100m relay disqualified after the baton failed to make round the track. After winning gold at the World Relay Championships in May, South Africa were seen as a real medal prospect in an event traditionally dominated by the Americans and Jamaicans. But the team consisting of Maswanganyi, SA 200m record holder Clarence Munyai, African 100m record holder Akani Simbine and Chederick van Wyk didn't even make it passed the first changeover.
Maswanganyi says the team's performance was affected by a late change that saw an injured Gift Leotlela replaced by Munyai. "Essentially coming into the competition, I was practicing exchanges with Gift," he revealed soon after the botched changeover between himself and Munyai. "I don't like making excuses but at the end of the day, I made the mistake. I didn't get out the same way I get with my other teammates I was practising with because unfortunately Gift got the injury," he explained.
Due to run the anchor leg, Simbine couldn't contain his disappointment at being knocked out during the heats. When questioned about what went wrong, the man who took fourth place in the 100m final passed the baton on to van Wyk saying he was too emotional to speak to the media. van Wyk who was part of the South African team that took silver in the 4x200m event at the 2019 World Relays felt the pain of disappointment most acutely because he did not run an individual event in Japan.
"We were well prepared for this but unfortunately Gift, our first leg runner injured himself in the 100m so we had to change and put Clarence in. So they trained only yesterday, they trained only one session together, so the click wasn't there. I don't have words. We would have been capable of making it through. No doubt! I was ready for this one, but it's sport. We must hold our head up high," he said.
Team SA's last hope of an athletics medal now rests with the marathon team who compete in the early hours of Saturday (women) and Sunday morning (men). Should the team fail to produce a medal, it would be the first time since readmission that a South African team does not return from an Olympic Games with an athletics medal.