Cape Town - Caster Semenya decided to move up in distance, taking on the 1 500m and 5 000m at the 2019 ASA Senior Track & Field and Combined Events Championships at the Germiston Athletics Stadium on Thursday.
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The championships were delayed earlier in the day due to fierce thunderstorms, but once the action commenced again at 11:00 the focus was on Caster Semenya as she lined up in the 1 500m heats. Easily dominating and leading from the front, Semenya cruised to victory in Heat 1 in a time of 4:30.65 to book her place in the finals on Friday at 19:45.
Semenya then lined up in only her second ever competitive 5 000m race and again dominated, despite a late attack by US-based Dominique Scott-Effurd. Semenya took control in the early laps of the race, with Scott-Effurd dogging her every step. At the bell, Scott-Effurd attacked and forged ahead. Semenya though, was not going to let her maiden 5 000m title slide and surged back to the front down the back straight to ease away for a comfortable victory, crossing the line in 16:05.97. Scott-Effurd came home in 16:13.71 with Kesa Molotsane rounding out the podium in 16:25.23.
Earlier, Simon Magakwe became the 100m athlete with the most ever national short sprint titles in South African history. The 33-year-old successfully defended his title from 2018, adding to the titles he won consecutively from 2009 through to 2014. Despite suffering from cramps, the ‘Lion’ got off to a blistering start and came through to win in 10.05 seconds.
“I am very happy. The time could have been better, but I came here to defend my title and I did that. So I am happy. Now I am off to Japan for the World Relay Championships where I will be chasing the time, the sub 10.”
Rocco van Rooyen won the men’s javelin title with a throw of 77.82m, while Julia du Plessis also claimed gold in the women’s high jump (1.80m) and Margo-Chene Pretorius won the women’s hammer (61.89m).
Wayde van Niekerk withdrew from the Championships in order to protect his knee. The world 400m record holder is confident of his return to top flight competition and has only one goal in mind.
“It is all about the 42 target. I am disappointed about not competing here today, but with the weather being inclement, we thought it was wiser not to take any chances. My recovery is going well and I would like to be back in competition this year, but will only do so if I can deliver a good performance. I am a competitor and respect my opponents, so I need to be at my best when I return.”