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Athletics | SA Track & Field

Justine Palframan © Gallo Images

SA quartet miss out after relay loss

The South African quartet of Justine Palframan, Gena Lofstrand, Ariane Nel and Wenda Nel teaup for the first time ever to take on the world in the 4x400m heats in London on Saturday morning.

They finished in seventh place in 3:37.82 in a World Championships heat won by Jamaica in 3:23.64. But straight after the race the SA team lodged an appeal as Lofstrand had been clipped from behind by a falling Bahamas runner during the second leg of the race.

That appeal ultimately proved unsuccessful and as a result the South Africans will not progress to the 4x400m final on Sunday. In fairness – even without the infringement, the SA side would have been a long way from qualifying.

“Someone fell behind me and I felt like I was going to go down as well but I managed to stay up somehow. I completely lost my rhythm but I tried my best to pick it up again,” explained Lofstrand afterwards.

Asked whether it affected the rest of the team, Wenda Nel said: “To be honest, I didn’t see what happened because it’s quite busy when they’re getting the athletes out in the correct lane. I saw Gena got the baton and was off well and I didn’t focus there anymore. We had to fall in the queue so I actually missed that.

“Justine mentioned earlier – we are here as a team and whatever happens we’re all in it together and try to be as strong as possible as an individual but also for the team. You just do your best when it’s your turn and then we share the result at the end of the day.”

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As for the potential in the team, considering this was their first ever race together, Nel added: “This is the first time. The way forward is to select a squad and then we can get together a little more often during the year to get to know each other, practise the changeovers and get that confidence and trust within the team. This has opened doors for us so it’s an amazing experience and opportunity to run here today – especially for Ariane, who didn’t run an individual event.

“I believe we can make the final at next year’s Commonwealth Games and like I always say, if you’re in the final, you always have a chance for a medal.”

Speaking about her first run on the London track, Ariane Nel said: “At first I had a plan to go out fast but there was someone moving in front of me so that rattled me a bit, but then when I got out it was fine. I saw it was quite fast so it was like a new race on my own. It was quite interesting because I haven’t run a 4x400 like this yet. I’ve just been surrounded by people when I run so it was good.”

Palframan, meanwhile, was pleased with her performance. “I felt really comfortable and my finish I felt was really strong. I felt like I could hold it and keep my form and that makes me more positive for World Students coming up and really excited,” said the 2015 World Student Games 400m champion.


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