South African Athletics

Semenya storms to Monaco 800m PB

2016-07-16 07:00
Caster Semenya (Gallo)

Monaco - Dafne Schippers sent out a further broadside to Olympic challengers by storming to victory in the 100m at Monaco's Diamond League meet which went ahead on Friday despite the deadly truck attack in neighbouring Nice.

At the Stade Louis II, all festivities outside the sporting arena were cancelled out of respect for at least 84 people killed in Thursday's truck attack in Nice, just 20km away.

Flags flew at half-mast, athletes wore a square of black cloth pinned to their tops and the meeting started with a minute's silence, with no music played on the stadium tannoys throughout the meet, as is usual.

"Given the circumstances, it's good the meeting has gone ahead," Sebastian Coe, president of world athletics' governing body the IAAF, told AFP.

New Zealand's four-time world and two-time Olympic gold medallist Valerie Adams won the shot put with a best of 20.05m, but was quick to put it into context.

"It's great to be able to show our support to the families of the victims in our small way," said Adams. "It's a very sad moment. My thoughts and prayers are with them."

On the track, less than a month away from the Rio Olympics, recently-crowned European champion Schippers was the only sprinter to dip under the 11-second mark to win the 100m in 10.94, second place going to Jamaica's seven-time Olympic medallist Veronica Campbell-Brown in 11.12.

A high-quality men's 1 500m saw a surprise victor in Ronald Kwemoi, who trumped favourite and fellow Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, Briton Mo Farah coming in fifth.

In a race featuring five of the 10 fastest over the distance of all time, the early pace was extremely fast, but eased off and it came down to a sprint over the last 80 metres.

Kwemoi showed a burst of speed to come through the line in a season's best of 3:30.49, world silver medallist Elijah Manangoi of Kenya taking second and Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi third.

Farah, reigning Olympic gold medallist in the 5000m and 10,000m and defending two-time world champion in both events, showed his own finishing skills by nipping past Kiprop at the line.

"It was a tough race because of all the surges," Farah said. "I still go away with a positive feeling.

"I'm a 5km-10km guy and I just ran 3.31, so that's good, isn't it?!"

South African Wayde van Niekerk, whose gold medal-winning 400m run at the 2015 world championships in Beijing made him the fourth best performer over the distance, showed his one-lap form with victory in 44.12, the perfect way to celebrate his 24th birthday.

Van Niekerk has made sprint history by becoming the first athlete to dip under benchmark times in the 100m (9.98), 200m (19.94) and 400m (43.48), but he insists his focus this season is wholly on the one-lap race.

"It was a tough race but I'm taking every small thing as it comes," he said. "This is another opportunity I am given to fine tune my racing. Hopefully by the time the Olympics come, I'll be ready."

There was a second victory for South Africa in the shape of Caster Semenya, who set a new personal 800m best of 1:55.33, beating her previous best set back in 2009, when she was crowned world champion in Berlin.

Semenya put in a 28-second final 200m in a performance that will send shivers down her rivals' backs and set her up as outright favourite for Olympic gold in Rio.

There was heartbreak, however, for Italian Gianmarco Tamberi, who won the high jump with a national record of 2.39m, but injured his left ankle on his second attempt at 2.41m and was stretchered away.

Elsewhere on the track, Britain's Eilidh Doyle upset in-form American duo Shamier Little and Cassandra Tate with a personal best of 54.09 to win the 400m hurdles.

There was more Kenyan glory as Alfred Kipketer won the men's 800m in 1:44.47, Conseslus Kipruto claimed the 3000m steeplechase in 8:08.11 and Hellen Obiri won the women's 3 000m in 8:24.27.

Cuban-born Spaniard Orlando Ortega set a season's best of 13.04 to win the 110m hurdles, in-form Jamaican Omar McLeod taking a tumble at the 10th and final hurdle.

And in the likely absence of Russian Yelena Isinbayeva from the Rio Games, Greece's European champion Katerina Stefanidi put down another Rio marker with victory in the pole vault, her best of 4.81m pushing Cuba's world champion Yarisley Silva into second.

Read more on:    caster semenya  |  athletics

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