Relay Heartbreak for South African Quartet in London

South Africa’s hopes of going through to the women’s 4×400-metre relay at the World Championships in London had an early setback on Saturday… writes MARK ETHERIDGE.


LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 12: Gena Lofstrand, Justine Palframan, Ariane Nel and Wenda Nel of South Africa after they competed in the heats of the women’s 4x400m relay during day 9 of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships 2017 at The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on August 12, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Roger Sedres/ImageSA/Gallo Images)

After Olympian Justine Palframan had got the quartet off to a bright start, the KwaZulu-Natal athlete looked to tire in the final straight and handed the baton over to 800m specialist Gena Lofstrand in second last position.

Lofstrand had run two gutsy races in the last few days, having qualified for the 800m semi-finals, and once again gave her all.

She was quickly into her stride, but as she looked to make up ground down the back straight, Bahamian runner Christine Amertil stumbled behind her and clipped her heels.

Lofstrand managed to stay on her feet, and just as importantly, kept a firm grip on the baton, but she lost crucial time and rhythm.

She handed over to the first of two Nels, Ariane, for the penultimate leg, and 400m hurdles semi-finalist Wenda Nel ran the final leg to take SA to seventh spot in 3min 27.82, with a season’s best time scant consolation.

Jamaica won the heat, the second of two, in 3:23.64.

The relay side’s failure to progress to Sunday’s relay final means that Caster Semenya and Lebogang Shange are the only two South Africans in last-day action.

Semenya goes off in the 800m final at 21:10pm SA time, while Shange is in the men’s 20km walk at 15:20pm.