Updated: July 10, 2016

Making final qualifying bids for next month’s Rio Olympics, middle-distance star Johan Cronje and the SA men’s 4x100m relay squad both missed out on the required criteria at the Flanders Cup meeting in Kortrijk, Belgium on Saturday.
Cronje, a former World Championships bronze medallist, did not finish the men’s 1 500m race.
The national record holder was unable to achieve the required Olympic standard of 3:36.20, setting a best time of 3:36.34 during the window period, which was due to close on Monday.
While the 34-year-old athlete competed at the 2004 Athens Games, where he reached the semifinals, Cronje was set to be sidelined for the third straight edition of the Olympics.
Meanwhile, the SA men’s 4x100m squad – missing some of the country’s fastest men, who were unavailable for various reasons at late notice – completed the one-lap race more than two seconds outside the time they needed to run to qualify for the Rio showpiece on aggregate rankings.
Needing to shatter the national record of 38.35 to give themselves a chance, they clocked 40.03, with a potential medal chance seemingly wasted after officials failed to create sufficient opportunities and ensure a full-strength relay squad was prepared for the Games.
It will be the first time in 24 years that SA is not represented in any relay race on the track at the quadrennial spectacle.
Meanwhile, though he had already qualified for the Games, Zarck Visser’s ticket to the Olympics remained uncertain, with the Commonwealth Games silver medallist settling for third place in the men’s long jump in Kortrijk with a 7.62m leap.
Unable to jump further than eight metres this year after returning from long-term injury, and with five other SA men having qualified for the long jump in Rio, Visser would need to hold thumbs that selectors felt he had displayed good form in the build-up, in line with domestic criteria.
He remained cemented at the top of the qualifying rankings, however, after setting a personal best of 8.41m, and with multiple international medals to his credit, Visser’s experience could see him getting the nod ahead of other athletes who had displayed better recent form.
In other contests at the Belgian meeting, Emile Erasmus clocked 10.24 to take second place in the men’s 100m race, with the benefit of a +3.5m/s tailwind, crossing the line 0.07 behind 19-year-old Karabo Mothibi of Botswana who secured victory. Fellow South African Roscoe Engel finished fourth in 10.41.
Erasmus and Engel also took fourth and fifth positions in 21.29 and 21.37 respectively in the 200m race.
Walter Ungerer was disqualified in the men’s 100m B final, but went on to finish third in the 200m B race in 21.28.
Earlier in the programme, Ungerer had grabbed second spot in his 100m heat in 10.38, pushed by a +3.2m/s wind.
World student 400m champion Justine Palframan held on for second position in the women’s 200m dash, crossing the line in 23.79 in windy conditions.
LaVerne Jones-Ferrette of the Virgin Islands won the half-lap race in 23.64.
Teenager Braam Bisschop ended fourth in the men’s 400m B race in 48.09, and rising junior star Jeanelle Griesel, who will form part of the SA team at the World U-20 Championships in Bydgoszcz later this month, was third in the women’s 400m B race in 55.24.
Middle-distance athletes Gena Lofstrand and Anuscha Nice both crossed the line in podium positions in the women’s 800m contest.
Manal el Barhaoui of Morocco won in 2:06.98, edging Lofstrand into second spot, just 0.05 off the pace, with Nice ending third in 2:08.51.
Samantha Pretorius took seventh place in the women’s long jump with a final round leap of 6.04m, and Stella Marais settled for ninth position in the women’s 1 500m event in 4:29.97.