Updated: July 6, 2016


South Africa’s fastest men will have one last chance to secure their place in the flagship 4x100m race at next month’s Rio Olympics when a second-string squad carries the nation’s final qualifying hopes at the Flanders Cup meeting in Kortrijk, Belgium on Saturday.
Athletics SA named a team on Wednesday consisting of national 100m record holder Akani Simbine, high hurdler Antonio Alkana, Emile Erasmus and Roscoe Engel.
World 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk was unavailable, along with former national 100m record holder Henricho Bruintjies and World Championships 200m bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana, who were recovering from injury.
Due to the unavailability of most athletes, in their final preparation for individual events at the Games, ASA said it had turned down invites for the national women’s 4x100m and 4x400m squads to compete in Belgium.
“We tried our best to put together all three teams, but due to unavailability of athletes either because of injuries or other reasons, this was the best and only team that we could put together and are sending,” ASA president Aleck Skhosana said in a statement.
Having won the African title in 38.84 last month, the national 4x100m squad will need to break the SA record of 38.35 this weekend in order to qualify for the Games based on aggregate rankings.
With the SA men considered potential Olympic medal contenders with enough planning and preparation, ASA seemingly dropped the baton by failing to organise enough relay opportunities earlier this season in order to improve the team’s aggregate results, and by not entering teams into last year’s World Relays in the Bahamas where eight of 16 Olympic qualifying spots were up for grabs in each event.
The nation’s other relay teams – including the women’s 4x400m squad who clocked a national record of 3:28.49 to win gold at the African Championships – remained stranded outside the top 16 in the aggregate qualifying rankings and looked set to miss out on places at the Games.