Event: Women’s Long Distances Date of birth: 1985/04/09 Personal bests: 800m (2:03.36),...
SEMENYA TO LEAD FINAL DIAMOND LEAGUE CHARGE
Olympic gold medallist Caster Semenya has a chance to cap a spectacular season in style on Thursday night, provided she delivers another world-class performance at the first of two finals in the Diamond League series, to be held in Zurich.
Semenya, who holds four of the six fastest times in the world this year, leads the series standings in the women’s 800m event, two points ahead of Olympic silver medallist Francine Niyonsaba.
If the South African star finishes ahead of Niyonsaba, regardless of her position in the race, she will win the season-long Diamond League contest in her specialist discipline.
Though she has been a class apart this year, setting a national record of 1:55.28 at the Rio Olympics less than two weeks ago, Semenya faces a strong field, with seven of the 12 women in the line-up having dipped under 1:58.00 this year.
Meanwhile, sprinter Akani Simbine is the fastest man in the men’s 100m line-up this season, after clocking 9.89 in Hungary last month, as he aims for his maiden Diamond League victory.
Every man in the Zurich field, however, has dipped under 10 seconds in his career, spearheaded by former world record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica and African champion Ben Youssef Meite of Ivory Coast, who edged out Simbine to win the short dash at the Diamond League meeting in Paris last week.
In the men’s 400m hurdles, LJ van Zyl is lying in seventh place in the series standings, with one last chance to close the gap on the overall leaders.
Though he was not included in the provisional entry lists, Van Zyl was added to the field on the eve of the meeting following the withdrawal of Kenyan world champion Nicholas Bett.
The national record holder, who has enjoyed a resurgent season, is up against a line-up spearheaded by Olympic champion Kerron Clement of the United States.
Though her event does not form part of the Diamond League finals being contested in Zurich, Wenda Nel will also turn out in the women’s 400m hurdles race, which is led by Olympic silver medallist Sara Petersen of Denmark.
The women’s 400m hurdles final will be contested in Brussels next week, with Nel lying fourth in the series standings in her best event.
Schedule of SA athletes competing at the Diamond League meeting in Zurich on Thursday evening (1 September, 2016):
8.05pm – women’s 400m hurdles (Wenda Nel)
9.02pm – women’s 800m (Caster Semenya)
9.20pm – men’s 100m (Akani Simbine)
9.28pm – men’s 400m hurdles (LJ van Zyl)
* The meeting will be broadcast live on SuperSport 5 and SuperSport 9