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Samaai, Simbine shine in Hungary

Simbine

By Mark Etheridge

There was gold for Ruswahl Samaai and two silver medals for Akani Simbine, the pick of the South African athletes at Tuesday’s seventh Istvan Gyulai Memorial meeting in Budapest, Hungary.

Samaai soared to long-jump victory with a final leap of 8.34 metres after opening with two 8.26m efforts. Among his scalps were Rio Olympics gold medallist Jeff Henderson and 2008 Beijing Olympics silver medallist Khotso Mokoena.

Also an Olympic finalist and 2014 Commonwealth Games medallist, Samaai would have been encouraged by his winning distance, which was only four centimetres short of the gold medal leap in Rio and only compatriot Luvo Manyonga has gone further this year (8.65m).

Simbine, a Rio Olympics 100-metre finalist, picked up second spot in both the 100 and 200m sprints. In the shorter event he was pipped to gold by Justin Gatlin (9.98sec to 9.99).

Then, in the 200m he ran a solid 20.21 to finish second to Gatlin’s fellow American Isiah Young (20:14).

‘Always good to come out and race at the @gyulaimemorial,’ said Simbine (pictured in Budapest action above) on social media after his race. ‘Tight finish, but feels real good to be back racing again.’

In the 100m Henricho Bruintjies was fourth, just 0.01sec behind Young (10.10).

SA record holder Antonio Alkana continues to seek the form that brought him the 110m hurdles record earlier this year. After running 13.11 in Czech Republic in May, Alkana hasn’t quite managed to get quite close to that sort of time again.

On Tuesday he was again up against a quality field, and took fifth spot in 13.21 as Jamaica’s Omar McLeod won in 12.96.

Best of the four SA women in action was Carina Horn. The product of Ladysmith, KZN, clocked 11.21 for fourth spot in the 100m final. Winner was Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare in 11.11, while a second South African, Alyssa Conley, took sixth spot in 11.41.

Then there was also a sixth spot for Rio Olympics finalist Wenda Nel in the 400m hurdles as she crossed in 55.83 behind winner Cori Carter of the US (54.22).

Ever keen to take something positive out of her race, Nel said afterwards: ‘Even though this race wasn’t one of my best, the strange thing is that I actually learnt quite a bit out of it. It wasn’t what I was hoping for, but I’m ready to fight for the next one.

‘It’s hard to pinpoint exactly which areas I need to work on because every race is different, so I’m just taking it race by race and try and improve on the last one.’

Nel’s next race is the Diamond League in London on Sunday.

And yet another sixth spot went to long jumper Lynique Prinsloo with a 6.34 best on the night, a 9cm improvement on her last competition as American Tianna Bartoletta won with 6.79 on the night. Prinsloo opened with a 6.17, followed by that 6.34, and there were also leaps of 6.25, 6.08 and 6.09).

Prinsloo is still seeking her best form. ‘Sure, it’s an improvement, but I’m not happy with the distance,’ she said.

‘I’m making silly technical mistakes, which at least we are now aware of, and coach Emmarie Fouche and I will concentrate on them. It was a nice strong field and I was really happy that at last I could compete against a quality field. Most of those girls were seven-metre girls and all struggled.

‘Every jump is now like training form me and it must all just fall into place, it’s such a technical event and I didn’t do that much jumping in SA before I came over here.’

Prinsloo was scheduled to take part in Lagos, Nigeria and was building towards that but, funding issues mean she now stays in Europe.

‘So now I’ve got meetings in Belgium on Saturday and then in Italy next week.’


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