Caster Semenya led the charge on Saturday night, eclipsing her own South African record in the women’s 800m race at the seventh leg of the Diamond League track and field series in Paris.
The rest of the SA contingent delivered a respectable bag of results, but Semenya stole the show with a gutsy front-running effort over the two-lap distance.
Having turned down an offer from the organisers for a pace setter, Semenya hammered it hard from the gun and ran the legs off the field, storming to a convincing victory in 1:54.25. She shattered her national record by 0.91, climbing to fourth place in the all-time world rankings and clocking the fastest time in the world since Kenyan Pamela Jelimo set the African record of 1:54.01 in August 2008.
Winding himself up for the second half of the season, Akani Simbine had to settle for fourth place, but he would have been satisfied with a solid performance in a tight contest. Simbine charged across the line in 9.94, just 0.06 behind American winner Ronnie Baker, with the SA record holder clipping 0.04 off the season’s best he had set in Madrid a week earlier.
Despite multiple disruptions, including a false start which eliminated Panamanian athlete Alonso Edward, 21-year-old national champion Luxolo Adams delivered a solid performance. He worked hard round the bend and maintained his momentum to the line, crossing fourth in 20.21 in a race won by American prospect Michael Norman in 19.84.
110m hurdles men
Finding consistency in the middle of a long season, Antonio Alkana coasted through the opening round, taking third place in his heat in a personal best of 13.31. After the final was delayed briefly, following the controversial disqualification of Russian favourite Sergey Shubenkov for a false start, Alkana finished fourth in 13.32. Ronald Levy of Jamaica took the win in 13.18.
100m B men
Agitated by his omission from the SA team announced earlier in the week for the African Championships in Asaba later this year, Commonwealth Games silver medallist Henricho Bruintjies made a statement with another good effort. He crossed the line in third place in 10.15, while countryman Thando Roto finished sixth in the second-string sprint contest in 10.23.