For SA champions Caster Semenya, Antonio Alkana and Lebogang Shange, the All-Africa Games that ended in Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo yesterday was just what the doctor ordered.
The trio arrived in Congo-Brazzaville a few days after suffering contrasting fortunes at the recent IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.
Semenya (800m), Alkana (110m hurdles) and Shange (20km racewalk) earned gold medals in their respective events this week, a feat that pushed Team SA’s medal tally beyond the 100 mark at the multicode event.
While the victory by Semenya (24) was attained in a pedestrian time of 2:00.97, it was still worth gold.
She reached the final in Beijing last month where she came a distant last in the race, but her success on Monday ensured that the Potchefstroom runner ended her season on a high.
Western Province Athletics sprinter Alkana (25) clocked a new personal best time of 13.32 seconds – improving from 13.47 seconds – for his gold medal. The performance was the Games’ new championship record.
Alkana missed out on a semifinal place in his international debut in Beijing by 0.02 seconds, finishing sixth in the heats last month.
His new mark is now the third-fastest time by a South African after Shaun Bownes’ 13.26 and Lehann Fourie’s national record of 13.24 seconds.
For Shange (25), his gold medal wrapped up a season where he had been in sizzling form. He broke national records – over the 20km (twice), and the 5 000m and 3 000m distances. This included a respectable 11th finish in China last month.
Other medallists in Congo were:
Gold: Russell Tucker (discus) Silver: Chris Harmse (hammer throw), Ischke Senekal (discus) Bronze: Jaco Engelbrecht (shot put), Fredriech Pretorius (decathlon), Julia du Plessis (high jump), Philmar van Rensburg (javelin), Wayne Snyman (20km walk), Sonia Smuts (shot put), Jo-Ané Van Dyk (javelin) and Chris Moleya (high jump).
South Africa finished the Games second with 122 medals – 41 gold, 41 silver and 40 bronze – to Egypt’s 193.