Semenya, Viljoen show early form in Potch

Updated: March 16, 2017

Caster Semenya held off a gutsy challenge from Kesa Molotsane (photo credit: Roger Sedres/Image SA)

Sunette Viljoen gave an early indication that she was ready for another solid season, while Caster Semenya again flaunted her versatility at the third leg of the ASA Speed Series in Potchefstroom on Wednesday evening.
Launching an impressive 62.82m heave to win the women’s javelin throw, nearly 10 metres clear of her nearest opponent, Viljoen wrapped up a commanding victory in her first competition of the year.
After earning two bronze medals at the IAAF World Championships and an Olympic silver last season, Viljoen said she was targeting a maiden global title in London later this year.
“As an athlete, I don’t want to settle for second best,” Viljoen said.
“I know in my heart I haven’t reached my best. My long term goals are the World Championships (in August) and then Commonwealth Games next year. We will reassess again after Gold Coast.”
On the track, Semenya earned a well-deserved tactical win in a rare appearance over 3 000m.
Sitting back in the pack for most of the race, the Olympic two-lap champion launched a kick on the final lap to shake off in-form athlete Kesa Molotsane, who fought all the way to the line.
Semenya, who confirmed she would consider defending her 400m, 800m and 1 500m titles at next month’s national championships, won the seven-and-a-half-lap race in a personal best time of 9:36.29 in her season debut, with national cross country champion Molotsane grabbing second place in 9:37.46.
“I’m used to running a few minutes on the track and going home,” Semenya joked afterwards.
“This is part of my training because we took a longer rest (in the off-season) and we’re a month behind, so I just need to keep working.”
Another Olympic finalist, Akani Simbine, won the men’s 200m race in 20.32.
Simbine said he had fallen ill earlier in the week and admitted he did not want to overdo it ahead of the Gauteng North provincial championships this weekend.
“It felt really easy today,” Simbine said.
“I started getting sick on Monday, and I told myself to literally just do enough to win.”
In other disciplines, Le Roux Hamman produced a stunning victory over national record holder LJ van Zyl in the men’s 400m hurdles.
Taking the lead off the final hurdle, Hamman won the race in 49.70, with Van Zyl also dipping under 50 seconds, clocking 49.99.
“LJ is one of the most difficult guys to beat, especially at the end, so I’m very happy with my race. It was a good one to win,” said Hamman, who competed at last year’s Rio Olympics.
Another Olympian, long jumper Lynique Prinsloo, got her 2017 campaign under way with 6.43m leap, and Jaco Engelbrecht delivered a 19.77m effort to win the men’s shot put.
Anuscha Nice won a hard-fought battle in the women’s 800m race, completing the two-lap event in 2:05.88 to hold off Gena Lofstrand (2:06.38) in the chase for the line, while Jerry Motsau produced a stunning kick at the bell to win the men’s 3 000m race in 8:04.57.
Athletes from Botswana put up a fight in most of the sprint races, giving the meeting some international flavour.
In an exciting men’s 400m dash, World Championships finalist Isaac Makwala won in 45.75, and local athlete Pieter Conradie was credited with the same time in second place.
Makwala had also finished second behind Simbine in the 200m event in 20.62, just ahead of junior prodigy Clarence Munyai (20.67).
Earlier, in the best performance of the pre-programme, Botswana junior athlete Karabo Sibanda won the men’s 400m B race in a superb time of 45.08.
The women’s one-lap event was won by compatriot Lydia Jele in 52.08.
The fourth and final leg of the ASA Speed Series will be held in Germiston next Wednesday (22 March, 2017).

* Full results are available in our Results section