Anaso Jobodwana’s false start in yesterday’s 100m heats was a deliberate move.
City Press can reveal that the 23-year-old’s embarrassing moment on the IAAF World Championships stage made up for the blunder by Team SA officials by not heeding his request to be withdrawn in time ahead of the race that was won by American Tyson Gay.
Sources in the camp told City Press Jobodwana had repeatedly asked to be withdrawn during the team’s meetings because his focus was to run in his favourite 200m event. It takes place on Tuesday and the semifinals are on Thursday.
The runner confirmed to City Press on Tuesday that he would not run the double race at the global championships.
Athletics SA (ASA) entered him for the 100m and 200m, which are a few hours apart. Had the 2012 Olympics finalist advanced to the later rounds, it would have proved too much for the US-based sprinter, who is recovering from injury.
He had no choice but to show up at the race yesterday as the team manual’s rule 9.7.3 states that failure to participate without a valid reason will result in athletes being excluded from participation in all further events in the competition.
This is the second embarrassing incident in Team SA’s camp after marathon runner Lukas Jani was dropped from the team two days before the 42km event that was held yesterday.
The ASA maintained it was not their fault.
The IAAF instructed the ASA to drop the 25-year-old as South Africa had exceeded the quota of three athletes per event, unless they had a reigning world marathon champion who was entered as a wild card.
Jani was supposed to have been left at home as a reserve, because his time was the slowest of his group with team-mates Desmond Mokgobu, Sibusiso Nzima and Benedict Moeng.
The litany of errors was further compounded by the team’s bad start on day one of the championships yesterday.
But 100m sprinters Akani Simbine, Henricho Bruintjies and hurdler LJ van Zyl restored the smile on the nation’s face with solid performances.
The trio blitzed into the semifinals of their respective events, which take place tomorrow between 12pm and 1pm South African time.
Simbine came third in a race that was won by Jamaican Asafa Powell (9.95) for an automatic berth in the semis, while Bruintjies emerged third in the heat that was clinched by American Justin Gatlin in a blistering 9.83 seconds.
“I will give it my all to reach the final. This was my worst race this year because I hesitated in the beginning and had to make up in the last 30m to 50m,” said Simbine.
He finished third in 10.09 in a heat that was clinched by Powell in 9.95 seconds.
Bruintjies clocked 10.07 in his heat, his third-fastest time of the season.
“It was really tough to be composed. It was my first time racing against Gatlin, but I didn’t focus too much on him. My body was nervous but my mind was focused.
“If I can come closer to my personal best time [9.970 in the semifinals], then I will make the final – I’ll give it my all.”
Van Zyl’s qualification was the first time since 2011 that he had gone past the first round in a major competition.
“I made sure I had enough power left for the final 50m. Tomorrow is going to be a different race,” he said after the race.
Team leader Pieter Lourens initially refused to comment, but he then told City Press “it is not ASA to be blamed”.
“Withdrawal should have been made prior to coming here. It is only the principle that we apply,” he said from the team’s hotel last night.
However, City Press sources contradicted this saying that the athlete had raised his request in team meetings well in advance of yesterday’s race.