'SA robbed of glory'

2009-07-16 15:56

Johannesburg - Arnaud Malherbe, a member of South Africa’s 4X400m relay team at the 1999 World Athletics Championships in Seville, said on Thursday they were "thrilled" to finally receive their bronze medals.

The quartet - consisting of Malherbe, Hendrick Mokganyetsi, Jopie van Oudtshoorn and Adriaan Botha - finished fourth in the final in Seville.

But last year Antonio Pettigrew, a member of the winning US team, admitted to doping when he testified against his former coach, Trevor Graham, at Graham’s trial concerning his involvement in the infamous Balco scandal.

The American team were subsequently disqualified and 10 years after the race the South African quartet were presented with their bronze medals in a ceremony organised by Athletics South Africa (ASA) before the current national team left for a training camp ahead of next month’s World Championships in Berlin.

"We gave it all we had," said Malherbe, who shares the South African individual 400m record of 44,59 seconds with Mokganyetsi.

"We broke the South African record and we came so, so close to winning a medal. But the Americans were disqualified and 10 years later we’ve got our medals.

"On behalf of the team, we’re thrilled to get this medal not only for ourselves, but also for our country."

ASA president Leonard Chuene said it was a pity the quartet did not experience the honour of standing on the podium amid the cheers of a packed Estadio Olimpico.

"They were robbed of their glory," Chuene said.

"But 10 years down the line we have now corrected America’s mistake."