SEMENYA MAKES HISTORY AT COETZENBURG

 
Updated: April 16, 2016

Caster Semenya continued to build on her impressive form in the early stages of the season, making history with a remarkable treble victory on the second and final day of the SA Senior Championships at Coetzenburg Stadium, in Stellenbosch, on Saturday.
Within the space of four hours, Semenya won the women’s 400m (50.76), 800m (1:58.46) and 1 500m (4:10.93) titles.
While it all went her own way with comfortable victories in the shorter events, she faced a strong challenge from US-based athlete Dominique Scott in the metric mile.
Scott took the lead on the first lap, but Semenya took advantage of a relatively slow early pace to launch her trademark kick over the last 200m as she drew clear, becoming the first athlete in the history of the annual championships to win all three titles.
“I didn’t expect to go this fast,” Semenya said.
“I wanted to run under 4:10.00 in the 1 500m, but it’s ok. The 400m and 800m were marvellous. I’m happy with my performances.”
World 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk dominated his specialist event, crossing the line in 44.98 seconds to defend his national crown.
“I appreciate every achievement that comes my way, and obviously now it’s up to me to improve myself for the rest of the year,” Van Niekerk said.
“The main goal is the Olympics, and I’d like to pick up a bit more momentum before I get to Europe and then Rio.”
Sprinter Alyssa Conley and distance runner Stephen Mokoka earned double crowns.
Conley charged to victory in the women’s 200m final in 23.01, achieving the Olympic qualifying standard in the half-lap event after stunning SA record holder Carina Horn to win the 100m title the day before.
Mokoka was on target for a national record in the men’s 10 000m race after Elroy Gelant assisted with the pace until halfway, and though he slowed in the second half, he clocked 27:57.50.
It was the second year in a row that Mokoka won the 5 000m/10 000m double, after his triumph in the shorter race on Friday.
Though a highly anticipated men’s long jump final was somewhat diluted, with Zarck Visser withdrawing injured and Khotso Mokoena focussing on the triple jump event, Ruswahl Samaai delivered in style.
Samaai produced a leap of 8.34m in the first round, and after title contender Luvo Manyonga overstepped twice and was eliminated at the midway cut, his opening jump was enough to earn a dominant win.
Race walker Lebogang Shange set the fastest time ever on SA soil in the men’s 20km walk, clocking 1:20:42 for the gold medal, while Wayne Snyman continued his rapid progress by setting a personal best of 1:20:46.
In the men’s 110m hurdles race, Antonio Alkana again displayed fine form, storming to victory in a season’s best time of 13.40.
With his younger compatriots delivering world-class performances, veteran hammer thrower Chris Harmse refused to be outdone.
The 43-year-old athlete launched a 73.32m heave to bag his 21st consecutive national title.