There was more major championship heartbreak for Akani Simbine after he was disqualified from the 100m semifinals at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary on Sunday for a false start.
“I’m disappointed. I’ve never false started on the circuit, never false started at a championship, so I’m just very disappointed,” said a devastated Simbine. “I just know that I moved when the gun said go, because I’m generally a slow starter. But it is what it is.”
In Simbine’s absence in the evening final, it was Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo who brought glory to Southern Africa. The 20-year-old star stormed to a silver medal in a national record time of 9.88 behind American Noah Lyles who took gold in 9.83.
Earlier in the day Wayde van Niekerk cruised to victory in his opening 400m heat in a time of 44.57 to qualify for the semifinals. Zakithi Nene made a blunder at the end of his race to allow two athletes in front of him at the finish to deny him automatic qualification. His time of 44.88 was enough to see him safely through to the semifinals as one of the fastest losers, however.
Speaking after the race, Van Niekerk said: “The heats and the semifinals are about surviving so I had to read my competitors and gauge off of them. That’s what I did in the heats and I think it should be a similar strategy in the semis and then in the final we’ll give it what we’ve got left.”
Nene reckoned he would learn from his mistakes, saying: “I judged the race well to about 300 or 320m, and I thought the race was over then before it was even over. So that’s on me, poor judgement of the race but I’ll fix it in the semi.”
Also through to the women’s 400m semifinals was Zeney van der Walt, who is doubling up at these championships – also competing in the 400m hurdles. The Commonwealth Games bronze medallist finished third in her 400m heat in 51.76 to book a spot in Monday’s semifinals. She’ll also be contesting the 400m hurdles heats on Monday, with just over two hours to recover between the two races.
“It feels really great, it feels amazing to advance to the semifinals and I’m very excited,” said Van der Walt. “My coach and I decided to do both events this year to take the challenge and to see how my body can manage it and to use it as a stepping stone here.”
Our team on the ground at Budapest have been interviewing all South African athletes after their respective events. To get an inside view into strategy and their thoughts on their performances, click the button below to see for yourself what it takes to compete on a world stage!