The South African junior men’s 4 x 100m relay team closed out a superb campaign at the World Athletics Under-20 Championships on Sunday, breaking the world junior record to win gold on the fifth and final day of competition in Nairobi, Kenya.
The SA quartet of Mihlali Xhotyeni, Sinesipho Dambile, Letlhogonolo Moleyane and Benjamin Richardson, secured victory in the final in 38.51 seconds. They shattered the previous global U20 mark of 38.62, set by the USA at the Pan American Championships in Costa Rica in July 2019.
They also obliterated the African record of 39.33, which SA had equalled in the heats the day before. Jamaica took second place in the final in 38.61. Poland took the last spot on the podium in 38.90.
“Individually, we are all fast and together we got a world record,” said Richardson, who earned the 100m silver medal earlier in the week. “It shows South Africa is improving in the relays and the individual events, which is great.”
The SA women’s 4x100m relay team finished sixth in the final, with Marione Fourie, Charlize Eilerd, Kayla la Grange and Viwe Jinqi clocking 45.05* to break the national U20 record of 45.07, set by the Northern Transvaal (Gauteng North) provincial team in Tshwane in March 1984.
Jamaica won gold in 42.94, breaking the world U20 women’s record.
The SA women’s 4x400m relay team of Precious Molepo, Angelique Strydom, Charlize Eilerd and Jada van Staden, also finished sixth in the final. They completed the four-lap race in 3:43.16, with Nigeria securing victory in 3:31.46.
Long jumper Karmen Fouche was sixth in the final with a best leap of 6.32m. Maja Askag of Sweden landed at 6.60m to bag the gold medal.
Juan Oosthuizen ended 11th in the men’s discus throw final with a 51.01m heave. Mykolas Alekna of Lithuania securing victory with a 69.81m throw.
South Africa took sixth position at the medals table with a total of nine medals (three golds, two silver and four bronze). Host nation Kenya finished at the top of the standings with 16 medals made of eight golds, one silver and seven bronze.
“We are over the moon with the whole performance of the team,” said James Moloi, the President of Athletics South Africa.
“Coming from the background of a tough and disrupted preparation programmes and competitions, we are beyond words to describe this achievement.
“The sheer determination of this team is reflected in the number of athletes that reached semi-finals and the final. This has been a team effort, where those who didn’t go through the next stage in their events, continued to support their teammates throughout the competition. That is patriotism in the true spirit of sportsmanship.”
Team ASA arrives at OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg at 4.20pm on Monday.