Tuesday, 27 April 2021 13:33

 

Staff Reporter.

Akani Simbine leads a national team of 10 athletes as captain on Tuesday 27 April 2021 to the World Athletics Relay Championships to be hosted at Silesia, Poland on 1-2 May.

The team is scheduled to finally depart this evening (8.30pm) on Qatar Airways from OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg to Doha, where they will connect to Poland. After the championships the team is expected to depart the host country on the 3rd, arriving home on 4 May.

South Africa will compete in the 4x100m men, 4x400m men and mixed relays. The team was dogged by travel challenges for the past two weeks after flight bookings were cancelled. Certain countries refused passage to the athletes because South Africa is listed as a red zone country by other nations because of a rogue mutant strain of the Corona virus that was identified by our scientists. The cancellations then affected a planned pre-departure camp that would have begun on Sunday.

 "Our top available athletes leave today to the world relays led as team captain by national 100m champion Akani Simbine, who clocked 9.82 seconds with a tailwind in the men's semi-finals before winning the national champs in 9.99," explained Aleck Skhosana, the President of Athletics South Africa. "The delegation is made of two male teams and a mixed team who are going to Silesia to contest for podium positions. Their secondary mission is to position themselves for automatic qualification for the Olympic Games.

"We have experienced a lot of difficulties in getting this team to travel after initially securing flight bookings and then saw them being cancelled because of countries that wouldn’t allow us to transit because we are South Africans due to Covid 19 issues.

"On behalf of the ASA Board, we wish this team well to go to the Poland to conquer and do the best for themselves, their country, for the federation and for Africa as they are equal to all the men and women who will be there from other countries. We thank each of the coaches who have prepared our athletes to be at this level. We are hopefull they are also ready to qualify for the Olympics.

"At these difficult times of the global pandemic, we shall also rely on the South African ambassador to Poland and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to keep an eye on our team there even though we have done everything we are supposed to, including the protocols outlined by the local organising committee and World Athletics."

The team is led by Paul Gorries as coach, Danie Cornelius as manager and Robyn John as the physiotherapist.