Wayde van Niekerk (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - There’s been a lot of confusion surrounding South Africa not having any track and field relay teams (4x100m and 4x400m) at the Rio Olympics - and the simple answer to that is that they did not qualify.
Hard to believe as South Africa is currently blessed with a strong athletic outfit going into an Olympic event, with gold medal prospects Wayde van Niekerk, Anaso Jobodwana and Akani Simbine.
Yet, we won’t see any of them compete against Usain Bolt’s Jamaica or Justin Gatlin’s United States 4x100m teams.
South Africa failed to qualify for the 4x100m men’s relay team at the Flanders Cup meeting in Belgium in July.
The men needed a minimum qualifying time of 38.06 to be placed 26th on the all-time world list.
However, the team could only muster a 40.03, despite claiming gold less than a month ago at the African Championships in Durban with a still unqualified time of 38.80.
Sport24 asked President of Athletics South Africa, Aleck Skhosana on what happened to the 4x400m men's relay team, he responded saying: "The team did not meet the qualifying criteria as we were expected to run a qualifying time twice and be rated in the top 16 in the world."
The SA women’s 4x100m and 4x400m teams also failed to secure Olympic berths, as they withdrew due to the unavailability of athletes.
Subsequently both women’s relay teams - Tamzin Thomas, Tebogo Mamatu, Carina Horn and Alyssa Conley from the 100m, and Caster Semenya, Jeanelle Griesel, Justine Palframan and Wenda Nel from the 400m - claimed gold at the African Championships in June.
Several South African supporters questioned why there was no SA relay team participating in Rio, which prompted an image of the four prominent male athletes to be spread all over social media: The Rio Olympics begin on Friday, August 5 with South Africa participating in its first event on Saturday, August 6 with Daryl Impey and Louis Meintjes taking part in the cycling road race at 14:30 SA time.