Anaso Jobodwana was left carrying the can after the gamble to race him at the Rio Olympics failed yesterday as he crashed out of the 200m heats.
This was the first time the bronze medallist from last year’s world championships had competed this year after an injury that had put his participation in jeopardy.
Jobodwana finished fourth in his heat in 20.53, a lifetime slower than his 19.87 SA record.
The two schoolboys who were selected to make up the SA quota of three entrants, Clarence Munyai and Gift Leotlela, were also unable to advance, going even slower.
Akani Simbine, fifth in the 100m on Sunday, would have every right to be fuming that he was overlooked for 200m selection – his qualifying time was quicker than those of the matric pupils.
Even Jobodwana reckoned Simbine had the form and firepower to have made the 200m final tomorrow.
And instead of Athletics SA’s selectors taking the blame, it was a hurting Jobodwana who felt he needed to apologise to Simbine for taking his place.
“Maybe I was just being too optimistic about this,” an upset Jobodwana said afterwards.
“Maybe I should have [stepped] down and given this to somebody like Akani. He was in a better position than maybe all three of us. He would have made the final at least.
“I’m going to kick myself for that one because this opportunity comes only once every four years.”
Leotlela, the under-20 world championship silver medallist, was fourth in his race in 20.59 and Munyai third in his in 20.66. Jobodwana was the fastest of SA’s 200m Olympic qualifiers, ahead of Wayde van Niekerk, Simbine, Munyai and then Leotlela.
Van Niekerk didn’t make himself available for the 200m, meaning Simbine was the de facto No 2, but ASA selected Jobodwana along with the two slowest qualifiers.
“It stings me, but it might have stung him [Simbine] a little bit more,” Jobodwana said.
“I will have a chat with him just to tell him it was my fault and hopefully he can understand . . . I’ll talk to him and let him know it wasn’t my intention not to put him in.
“I felt ready and, as I said before, if I wasn’t ready to run I would not even have tried.”
Jobodwana, who won the sprint double at the 2013 World Student Games, said: “Maybe we can make it up and get a 4x100m relay and then next year we’re all in the 200m and just do the best that we can.”
In the men’s 10km marathon swim, Chad Ho surged up the field over the final 2.5km to end 10th, just five seconds behind winner Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands.
Bridgitte Hartley ended fifth in the K1 200m B-final, or 13th overall.
Her real race – the K1 500m in which she took the bronze medal four years ago – begins today.