International Athletics

Van Niekerk stars in busy weekend for SA athletes

2016-06-12 16:33
Prayer comes first for Wayde van Niekerk on the track PHOTO: Patrick Smith / Getty Images

Cape Town  - World 400m champion Sprinter Wayde van Niekerk led the charge at the weekend, with South African athletes producing a string of impressive performances around the world.

Building on his superb form ahead of the Rio Olympics in August, Van Niekerk stole the show at the Racers Grand Prix meeting in Kingston on Saturday night, smashing his own SA best in the Men's 300m sprint.

He crossed the line in 31.03 seconds, holding off American LaShawn Merritt by 0.20 to secure an impressive victory.

The SA global icon, shattered his national mark of 31.63, which he had set in Birmingham in June last year, climbing to third place in the global all-time list behind Michael Johnson (30.85) and Jamaican star Usain Bolt (30.97) over the rarely run 300m distance.

Akani Simbine, who had spent the week training with compatriots Van Niekerk and Justine Palframan at Bolt's camp in Jamaica, did well to finish sixth against a world-class line-up in the Men's 100m sprint.

He clocked 10.01, just 0.05 outside his own SA record, while Bolt, the world record holder, won the race in 9.88.

Palframan took seventh position in the Women's 400m event in a Season's Best of 53.01. Shericka Jackson of Jamaica, the bronze medallist at last year's IAAF World Championships, secured victory in 50.72.

Elsewhere in the United States, Dominique Scott closed out her university track career in style with a super 5 000m/10 000m double at the NCAA Championships in Eugene.

After winning the 10 000m title on Thursday in 32:35.69, Scott bagged the 5 000m crown on Saturday crossing the line in 15:57.07.

This was Scott's last appearance for the University of Arkansas before her eligibility comes to an end, as she prepares to embark on a professional career.

Long Jumper Roelf Pienaar (Arkansas State) was the only other medallist of the seven SA athletes competing at the four-day NCAA Championships, producing a best leap of 7.93m to earn silver.

In Europe, South Africans made their presence felt on Saturday, dominating multiple events and setting Personal Bests at track and field meetings in Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Competing in Lier, sprinter Emile Erasmus won the Men's 100m (10.46) and 200m (21.34) races, while former World Championships bronze medallist Johan Cronje was also victorious, taking the Men's 1 500m contest in 3:39.48.

In the Women's 5 000m event, Nolene Conrad bagged the win in 15:55.64, setting a Personal Best as she dipped under 16 minutes for the second time in her career.

At the Georges Caillat Memorial Meeting in Geneva, Jean-Mare Senekal set a Personal Best in the Women's 400m Hurdles, clocking 57.89 to win her heat.

She bettered her previous career record, set in Pretoria two years ago, by 0.16. Dikotsi Lekopa finished third in the Men's 3 000m Steeplechase in 9:00.63, with countryman Tumisang Monnatlala taking fifth place in 9:08.55.

At the Gouden Spike Meeting in Leiden, Xolisa Tyali ended 12th in the Men's 10 000m race, clocking a career record of 28:27.10.

Meanwhile, back home, Le Roux Hamman smashed his Personal Best on Saturday, becoming the third SA athlete to qualify for the Men's 400m Hurdles event at the Olympics.

The 24-year-old athlete clocked 49.24 at a meeting in Pretoria, which was held to officially open the new Mondo track at the BestMed Tuks Athletics Stadium.

Hamman chopped 0.75 off his career record set in Johannesburg in March, and followed compatriots LJ van Zyl and Lindsay Hanekom under the 49.40 qualifying mark for the Games in August.

National record holder Carina Horn scorched to a convincing victory in the Women's 100m sprint.

Running into a -0.8m/s headwind, Horn was well clear of her nearest challenger, crossing the line in 11.18. She equalled her Season's Best set in St Polten, Austria two weeks earlier.

Resurgent Long Jumper, Luvo Manyonga, comfortably dominated an expected tussle against African champion Zarck Visser, producing a winning leap of 8.05m.

Visser, competing for the first time this year after battling with injury, settled for second place by launching a best attempt of 7.50m.

Read more on:    wayde van niekerk  |  athletics

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