Event: Women’s Long Distances Date of birth: 1985/04/09 Personal bests: 800m (2:03.36),...
SA TRIO WIN IN ROME
South African athletes delivered superb all-round performances on Thursday night, with five competitors finishing among the top two in their respective events at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rome.
Sprinter Wayde van Niekerk, middle-distance specialist Caster Semenya and javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen all secured victory at the fifth of 14 legs in the top-flight international campaign.
Van Niekerk, competing in his first international race of the season, won the men’s 400m race in 44.19 seconds, just 0.08 outside the season’s best he set in his home town of Bloemfontein at the SA Open Championships last month.
He led off the final bend and drew clear to cross the line well ahead of Grenada’s Bralon Taplin, who finished second in 44.43.
Semenya was perhaps even more dominant, charging to victory in 1:56.64 to equal the world lead she set in Rabat less than two weeks earlier.
Sitting back for most of the race, as she has done throughout the season, Semenya launched a late assault down the home straight to win convincingly for the third Diamond League two-lap contest this year, with Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi securing second position in 1:58.20.
In warm, humid conditions, Viljoen also snatched victory with a best heave of 61.95m.
While this was well short of her own world lead, she edged out Madara Palameika of Latvia (61.92) to bag another morale-boosting win.
Two other SA athletes continued to stick their hands up in the early stages of the international campaign, both earning second place in their events, with Victor Hogan launching a 64.03m heave in the fifth round of the men’s discus throw and Wenda Nel storming down the finishing straight to clock a season’s best of 54.61 in the women’s 400m hurdles.
In other events, Ruswahl Samaai ended fourth in the men’s long jump with a leap of 8.16m, with Luvo Manyonga taking seventh place (8.03m), while speedster Akani Simbine (10.13) grabbed fifth spot in the men’s 100m dash.