Beijing - The South African team survived a tough first day of action
at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing, China on
The team took a few tough body blows as at least three track athletes fell by the wayside on hot Beijing day.
just one (Desmond Mokgobu) of three SA starters finished the marathon
early on, Rynardt van Rensburg’s 1min 48.61sec wasn’t good enough to see
him through to the next round of the 800m in this the highest profile
competition he’s taken part in.
Afternoon action saw 2006
Commonwealth champion LJ van Zyl book his place in the next round of the
400m hurdles as he ended third in the second of five heats.
His 49.12sec saw him comfortably through as an automatic choice as the first three in each heat went through.
the next heat saw compatriot and reigning Commonwealth champion Cornel
Fredericks failing to come out and take his place in the starting
blocks. And while there was no confirmation from team management it
seems his Achilles tendon problems may not be something of the past.
shock of the hurdles heats was that the fastest man in the world this
year, American Bershawn Jackson ended second last in his heat and his
50.14 was nowhere near quick enough to take him through on time alone.
Nicholas Bett’s 48.57 in the first heat was quickest qualifier and Van
Zyl’s time 15th fastest of 22 through to the second round. Jackson could
only clock the 34th quickest time.
On to the 100m heats and it
was Akani Simbine who was the next South African to progress as his
third spot in heat two saw him cross the line in a solid 10.09 as Asafa
Powell of Jamaica won the heat in 9.95.
But there was more opening
day disappointment for South Africa as former SA 200m record holder and
Olympic 200m finalist, Anaso Jobodwana was too quick out of the blocks,
false started and received an automatic red card.
Simbine’s joint SA record holder Henricho Bruintjies soon put some
smiles back on SA faces as he emulated his fellow sprinter with third
spot in the sixth heat.
Running alongside controversial American
Justin Gatlin, Bruintjies had a solid enough start but came through
nicely over the last 30m or so to clock 10.07 and live to fight another
day. Gatlin won in 9.83.
In the final heat of the nine heats
Olympic and world record holder Usain Bolt looked the epitome of
confidence as he had a solid start, hit the front around halfway and
eased up to clock 9.96 and give Gatlin (world leader with 9.74 this
year) something to keep thinking about.
Gatlin’s 9.83 was quickest
into the next round, Bolt’s 9.96 fifth fastest and Bruintjies and
Simbine went through 16th and 17th respectively.Stephen Mokoka was scheduled to be the final South African in action on Saturday, running the 10 000m track final.