10 Aug 2012

South Africa into relay final after appeal

2:24 am on 10 August 2012

Double amputee Oscar Pistorius has been handed a chance for an historic Olympic medal after South Africa was given the spare ninth lane in the 4x400m relay final despite failing to finish the heat.

Pistorius had been left stranded at the start of the third leg on Thursday when second runner Ofentse Mogawane fell to the ground on the bend into the final stretch after colliding with Kenya's Vincent Kiilu and could not complete the leg.

Even though there was more than half the race to go and South Africa was battling for sixth and seventh with Kenya when the incident occurred, they successfully appealed and were given a place in Friday's final, AAP reports.

While Kiilu said he had been spiked, his team agreed he was at fault. Kenya were subsequently disqualified, prompting an appeal by South Africa, which won the silver medal at last year's world championships.

Pistorius made history when he became the first double amputee to compete in the athletics at an Olympics in the 400m individual heats on Saturday and was left disconsolate as Mogawane lay on the track at the top of the straight.

But the International Association of Athletics Federations decided that the team should be given a second chance to claim a medal.

Meanwhile, Jamaican great Usain Bolt will not have to decide as to whether he will run in the relay after his teammates failed to finish their heat on Thursday.

The world championship bronze medallists had fancied their chances of ending America's dominance and looked devastated after Jermaine Gonzales pulled up with an injury, Reuters reports.

The first heat was won by 2008 Beijing Games silver medallists the Bahamas with a season's best of 2min 58.87 seconds, just in front of world champions and winners of the event at the last seven Olympics, the United States.

Joining them in the final will be medal contenders Trinidad and Tobago and Britain, who finished first and second in Thursday's first heat in a time of 3min 00.38s, as well as runners from Cuba, Russia, Venezuela and Belgium.