Updated: September 16, 2016

The quality of performances by local athletes in the 2016 campaign is mirrored by the final season rankings, with South Africans prominently placed in the track and field global lists compiled by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

With the international season coming to a close at the Diamond League final in Brussels last week, the country had four athletes ranked among the top five in the world this year in various events, with another three listed in the top 10 of their disciplines, and six more in the top 20.

Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya, who won Olympic titles in Rio last month, were the star performers, with both athletes achieving No 1 spots in the performance lists of their specialist events while displaying tremendous versatility.

Van Niekerk’s world record of 43.03 seconds in the 400m sprint was backed by a 15th place in the global 200m list, after he clocked 20.02 to win the half-lap title at the African Championships in Durban in June.

The speedster was also ranked 23rd in the 100m dash, having set a personal best of 9.98 in Bloemfontein in March.

Semenya, meanwhile, was listed first in the women’s 800m event with her national record of 1:55.28, which she recorded to lift the Olympic crown.

Charging to victory in the 400m race in Brussels last week in a personal best 50.40, Semenya was also ranked 12th over the one-lap distance, while the 4:01.99 career best she set to secure the African 1 500m title was enough for 14th place in the event.

Meanwhile, Olympic silver medallist Luvo Manyonga climbed to second position in the final men’s long jump rankings with a convincing win in Brussels, launching a leap of 8.48m.

His effort was 10cm short of the world lead set by American athlete Jarrion Lawson in Eugene in July.

Sprinter Akani Simbine finished the season in fifth place in the men’s 100m dash, setting a national record of 9.89 at a meeting in Hungary in July, which was 0.09 outside the world lead held by American Justin Gatlin.

In other events, Olympic finalist Ruswahl Samaai was ranked sixth in the long jump, and though Victor Hogan was listed sixth in the discus throw, he tested positive for the prohibited substance methylhexaneamine after delivering his personal best heave of 67.72m at the national championships in Stellenbosch in April.

While the SA Institute for Drug Free Sport said Hogan had been suspended for two years, the former World Championships finalist hoped to clear his name by attempting to prove he unwittingly ingested the substance in a supplement.

Aside from Semenya, Olympic silver medallist Sunette Viljoen was the only other SA woman with a top-10 ranking, ending eighth in the javelin throw list with a 65.14m heave.

SA athletes listed in the top 20 in the 2016 IAAF world track and field rankings:


1st – Wayde van Niekerk, 400m (43.03)

2nd – Luvo Manyona, long jump (8.48m)

5th – Akani Simbine, 100m (9.89)

6th – Ruswahl Samaai, long jump (8.38m)

6th – Victor Hogan, discus throw (67.62m)*

15th – Van Niekerk, 200m (20.02)

16th – LJ van Zyl, 400m hurdles (48.67)

17th – Stefan Brits, long jump (8.22m)

18th – Antonio Alkana, 110m hurdles (13.28)

19th – Elroy Gelant, 5 000m (13:04.88)


1st – Caster Semenya, 800m (1:55.28)

8th – Sunette Viljoen, javelin throw (65.14m)

12th – Semenya, 400m (50.40)

12th – Wenda Nel, 400m hurdles (54.47)

14th – Semenya, 1 500m (4:01.99)

20th – Lynique Prinsloo, long jump (6.78m)
* Dependent on the results of an impending anti-doping hearing