Long jumper Ruswahl Samaai was the best of the South African contingent on Thursday night, producing a gutsy fight to snatch second place at the first leg of the Diamond League finals in Zurich.
Juan Miguel Echevarria of Cuba opened the competition with an explosive leap, landing at 8.65m with his first attempt, and his 2019 world lead was enough to secure a convincing victory.
Samaai, however, maintained his composure in the latter stages to grab the runner-up spot.
The World Championships bronze medallist was lying seventh after four rounds, but he rocketed up the standings with his penultimate attempt of 8.20m, and though Jamaican athlete Tajay Gayle achieved the same distance, Samaai held his nerve to produce a jump of 8.17m in the last round, edging out his opponent by one centimetre (0.01m) on count back.
World champion Luvo Manyonga sailed beyond 8.10m with four of his six attempts but he had to settle for fourth position with his first-round effort of 8.19m.
There was no resistance from Zarck Visser, however, who tailed the field throughout the competition, settling for eighth and last position with his opening round leap of 7.60m.
On the track, Commonwealth Games champion Akani Simbine was edged out in a tight battle for the men’s 100m crown.
While pre-race favourite Noah Lyles of the United States was the only man in the field to run under 10 seconds, storming over the line in 9.98 to secure the Diamond League title, the next four men were all locked in a blanket finish.
Simbine, who had set a season’s best of 9.93 to win the men’s short dash at the 10th leg of the series in London last month, crossed the line in fifth spot in 10.10, just 0.03 behind former world champion Yohan Blake of Jamaica who finished third.
The 14th and final leg of the top-flight global track and field campaign was set to be held in Brussels next week.