STELLENBOSCH, South Africa, Sporting Alert – Caster Semenya was left in excitement after she became the first South African athlete to complete a clean sweep of the 400m/800m/1500m triple at the 2016 South Africa Senior Championships.
In fact, two of the three times posted by Semenya on Saturday were world-leading performances at Coetzenburg Stadium in Stellenbosch.
The 2009 IAAF World Championships 800m champion from Berlin, posted a world-leading and personal best time of 50.74 seconds to secure the women’s 400m title, after cruising to 55.16 to win her heat earlier in the competition.
She then grabbed the 800m crown with a seasonal-best effort of 1:58.45, just 45 minutes after the 400m, and the time bettered her previous world-leading mark for 2016, which had sit at 2:00.23.
The 25-year-old completed the sweep three hours later when she won the 1500m final with a time of 4:10.91, the sixth fastest in the world for the 2016 outdoor season.
“I’m overwhelmed. I didn’t expect fast times like these,” said Semenya. “I feel good.
“After running that many races, you don’t feel much pain. I’ll probably pay tomorrow!”
Despite highlighting the championships this weekend, Semenya confirmed that she will be focusing on the 800m at the Olympics in Rio.
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There was a world-leading performance as well for Wenda Nel in the women’s 400m hurdles, after she clocked 54.84 secs to win that event.
World Championships gold medallist Wayde van Niekerk won the men’s 400m title in 44.98 to earn his place on the South African team for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
There was a shocking result in the men’s 100m dash, though, as world-leader and event favourite Akani Simbine was beaten by Henricho Bruintjies in the final.
The 22-year-old Bruintjies, who has a sub-10 seconds personal best, set during last season, only needed to run 10.17 (-0.1 m/s) seconds to defeat Simbine, who ran 10.21 seconds for second place.
Simbine owns the 2016 best 100m time, at 9.96 seconds.
In the men’s 110m hurdles, Antonio Alkana clocked a 2016 world-best 13.37 secs to bagged the national title, with 2011 IAAF World Championships bronze medallist LJ van Zyl taking the men’s 400m hurdles crown in 49.34 over Cornel Fredericks, who stopped the clock at 49.75.
Elsewhere on the day, Rushwal Samaai won the men’s long jump national title with a world-leading 8.34m while Victor Hogan threw a world-best mark for 2016 to win the men’s discus throw with 67.62m.
In the women’s sprints, Alyssa Conley won 100m and 200m double with times of 11.36 secs and 23.01 secs — the latter being a personal best for the 24-year-old.
Stephen Mokoka won the men’s 5000m and 10000m double with times of 13:40.81 and 27:57.50.