11 August 2012

South Africa: Relay Team Learn Second Chances Do Exist

London — While the South African 4x400m relay team finished last in the Olympic Games final on Friday night, their run proved to them that second chances did exist.

The team were left shattered after they crashed out of the heats when Ofentse Mogowane -- running the second leg of the race -- tripped over Kenya's Vincent Mumo ending their race.

This brought double-amputee Oscar Pistorius' dream of reaching an Olympic final to an end, while anchor Willie de Beer also missed out on making his debut at the Games.

The team's disappointment soon turned to joy when the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) Jury of Appeal agreed to advance the SA team to the final.

Their reinstatement did not only bear good news for Pistorius and De Beer, but also for LJ van Zyl who was left out of the team for the heats.

Van Zyl, who was on his way to the airport following the team's initial exit, replaced Mogowane, as the latter was ruled out of Friday's race after he injured his shoulder in his fall in the heat.

The team consisting of Shaun de Jager, De Beer, Van Zyl and Pistorius crossed the line in last position with a season's best time of three minutes, 03.46 seconds (03:03.46).

"It was not the result that we wanted, it was a tough one for us and it was difficult to lift ourselves up after we were out the final and won the appeal," Van Zyl said.

"Willie got a chance to run at the Olympic Games and Oscar got a chance to run in the final at the Olympics.

"Today was a historical event for us, 10 or 20 years from now we will forget the result and remember that we ran with Oscar."

Pistorius -- reflecting on his maiden Games -- said the last week had been one of the biggest blessings for him.

"Just to have had that opportunity to step outside, that's just been absolutely phenomenal and I am sure in a week I am going to have the same emotions," Pistorius said.

"If I took all the positive things that I could have thought about this and multiply it by 10, it would still not be close."

Pistorius, one of the most popular athletes at the Games, made history last Saturday as the first amputee to compete on the track at the able-bodied Olympics.

He made it through to the 400m semi-finals, but failed to advance to the final.

The 25-year-old said he now had to shift his focus to the Paralympics which kicks-off on August 29, where he will defend his 100, 200 and 400 titles.

"I'll definitely be in Rio, I've got more inspiration in the last two, three weeks and I am sure I'm going to get more in the Paralympics in the next coming weeks," he said.

Meanwhile, it was also a bitter-sweet occasion for De Beer, who got his first opportunity to participate at the Games.

"I thought yesterday that I would not participate and today I got my chance, it just shows you in life you do get second chances," De Beer said.

"I am one of the few people who can say that my first race at the Olympic Games was in a final."

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