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SA relay team for Worlds confirmed

Athletics SA (ASA) has confirmed the men’s 4x100m relay team relay team consisting of South Africa’s top sprinters for the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, starting on Saturday.

Among the six athletes named – who would possibly form the quartet in Beijing – there are four sprinters who have set national records so far this year.

The team will consist of Wayde van Niekerk, Anaso Jobodwana, Akani Simbine, Henricho Bruintjies, Antonio Alkana and Barend Koekemoer.

While there was concern that South Africa would not be able to enter a relay team as no quartet have posted a qualifying time this season, last year’s record-breaking effort at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow was good enough for a spot among the top 16 teams.

The quartet of Simbine, Bruintjies, Simon Magakwe and Ncinci Titi set a new national mark of 38.35 at the Games.

A total of eight sprint records were broken this year alone with Carina Horn the only woman to add her name to the list after equalling Evette de Klerk’s 25-year-old national 100m mark.

The quartet will be spearheaded by breakthrough sprinters Bruintjies and Simbine who shared the South African 100m dash record of 9.97 seconds which they set within a week of each other in July.

Olympic finalist Jobodwana broke the 200m record twice in May before Van Niekerk became the first South African to break through the 20-second barrier in July.

Van Niekerk holds the 200m record of 19.94 while Jobodwana’s 20.04 is the second fastest time by a South African.

Two weeks after breaking the 200m record, Van Niekerk became the first African athlete to break through 44 seconds in the 400m clocking 43.97, the 11th fastest time of all-time.

The duo will add further clout to the relay team while the four will be supported by 400m specialist Koekemoer and 110m hurdler Alkana.

Magakwe is not eligible as he is serving a two-year ban for a doping defence while Titi did not qualify for the championships.

South Africa has a proud tradition in the relay events at the World Championships, with the 4x100m relay team of Morne Nagel, Corne du Plessis, Lee-Roy Newton and Mathew Quinn winning the gold medal at the Edmonton edition in 2001.

Despite the emerging sprinting talent South Africa failed to send a team to the World Relays for two consecutive years.

Participating there would have given the team easier access to the World Championships where the top-eight teams receiving automatic qualification.

The next fastest eight teams were then selected to make up the 16 that would battle it out in Beijing.

South Africa has an equally proud record in the 4x400m relays with Willie de Beer, LJ van Zyl, Shane Victor, Oscar Pistorius and Ofentse Mogowane banding together to win the silver medal at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu.

At the 1999 Seville World Championships, the South African team of Jopie van Oudtshoorn, Hendrik Mokganyetsi, Adriaan Botha and Arnaud Malherbe claimed the bronze medal.

South Africa could have entered a formidable 4x400m relay team spearheaded by Van Niekerk and supported by top-class 400m hurdlers Cornel Fredericks and national record-holder LJ van Zyl.

However, a team failed to qualify during the window between January 1, 2014 and August 10, 2015.

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