Cape Town - South African athletes delivered superb
all-round performances on Thursday night, with five competitors finishing among
the top two in their respective events at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in
Sprinter Wayde van Niekerk, middle-distance specialist
Caster Semenya and javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen all secured victory at the fifth
of 14 legs in the top-flight international campaign.
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 of Bloemfontein at the ASA Open
Championships last month.
He led off the final bend and drew clear to cross the line
well ahead of Grenada's Bralon Taplin who finished second in 44.43.
Semenya was perhaps even more dominant, charging to victory
in 1:56.64 to equal the world lead she set in Rabat less than two weeks earlier
in the women’s 800m.
Sitting back for most of the race, as she has done
throughout the season, Semenya launched a late assault down the home straight
to win convincingly for the third Diamond League two-lap contest this year,
with Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi securing second position in 1:58.20.
In warm, humid conditions, Viljoen snatched victory with a
best heave of 61.95m.
While this was well short of her own world lead, she edged
out Madara Palameika of Latvia (61.92) to bag another morale-boosting win.
Two other SA athletes continued to stick their hands up in
the early stages of the international campaign, both earning second place in
Victor Hogan launched a 64.03m heave in the fifth round,
less than a metre short of Polish athlete Robert Urbanek, and after a
conservative start, Wenda Nel stormed down the finishing straight to clock a
Season's Best of 54.61 in the women's 400m hurdles, with Janeive Russell of
Jamaica crossing the line in 53.96 to rack up a new world lead.
Ruswahl Samaai ended fourth in the men's long jump with a
leap of 8.16m, with Luvo Manyonga taking seventh place (8.03m), while comeback
speedster Akani Simbine (10.13) grabbed fifth spot in the Men's 100m dash,
which was won by American Justin Gatlin in 9.93.