SA’s top ath­letes make a mark

CityPress - - Sport -

With ex­actly 60 days to go be­fore the com­mence­ment of the Rio Olympic Games, South African ath­letes are al­ready show­ing their readi­ness to con­quer at the world’s big­gest show­piece.

On Thurs­day, Wayde van Niek­erk, Caster Se­menya and Sunette Viljoen all won their re­spec­tive events at the IAAF Di­a­mond League meet­ing in Rome.

They pock­eted $10 000 (R150 000) each for their vic­to­ries. This put them in line for the R617 000 first prize at stake when the sea­son ends in Septem­ber.

Van Niek­erk, com­pet­ing in his first in­ter­na­tional race of the sea­son, won the men’s 400m race in 44.19 sec­onds, just 0.08 out­side the sea­son’s best he set in his home town, Bloem­fontein, at the Athletics SA Open Cham­pi­onships last month.

The charis­matic run­ner led off the fi­nal bend and drew clear to cross the line well ahead of Gre­nada’s Bar­lon Taplin, who came sec­ond in 44.43.

The in-form Se­menya was per­haps even more dom­i­nant as she charged to the fin­ish line in 1:56.64 to equal the world lead she had set in Ra­bat less than two weeks ear­lier in the women’s 800m.

Se­menya was happy to sit at the back of the field and was seem­ingly boxed in on the first lap.

But she quickly moved to the front of the field in the sec­ond lap, reel­ing in Francine Niyon­s­aba of Bu­rundi, who had built a healthy lead over the chas­ing pack.

Niyon­s­aba had no answer for Se­menya’s kick as the South African star pulled away eas­ily over the fi­nal 60m to cross the line in 1.56.64 for her third Di­a­mond League vic­tory of the year.

Viljoen snatched vic­tory with a pow­er­ful heave of 61.95m.

PHOTO: REUTERS / ALESSANDRO BIANCHI

GLORY Caster Se­menya af­ter her im­pres­sive win­ing run

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