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Semenya and long-jump duo impress for SA

Semenya

By Mark Etheridge

Day one of the IAAF World Athletics Championship is done and dusted…and it was Olympic medallists Caster Semenya and Luvo Manyonga who led the way for South Africa.

Rio 800-metre champion Semenya was in 1500m heat action and cruised to second spot in heat one in 4min 02.84sec behind Ethiopia’s reigning world champion, Genzebe Dibaba (4:02.67). That sees her safely through to Saturday’s semi-final.

Then it was over to the long jump pit as Olympic silver medallist Luvo Manyonga eased into the final, along with Commonwealth Games medallist Ruswahl Samaai as they recorded leaps of 8.12 and 8.14 metres respectively in qualifying.

That put them third and fourth ranked into the final as Czech Republic’s Radek Juska’s 8.24 was longest of the night.

Still, both South Africans looked to have plenty in the tank, with enough in reserve to hopefully power them both on to the podium on Saturday.

The sprint events were a nerve-wracking affair for SA as first Akani Simbine could just manage fourth in the 100m heats. Only the first three finishers in each heat were guaranteed places in Saturday’s semi-finals.

Simbine ran 10.15 in heat three behind Jamaica’s Julian Forte, the only man to dip under the 10sec barrier in the heats with a 9.99 finish.

The SA Olympic finalist in Rio last year had to wait until the completion of the heats before he was able to relax at making the 24 semi-finalists.

‘I didn’t think the guys would go as fast as that because it was a heat, but everybody probably just wanted to make sure they made it to the next round,’ Simbine said.
‘I feel good and I feel I can run really great times. And it’s just a matter of getting onto the track and making sure I put everything I did during the season onto the track.’

Fellow South African Thando Roto was not so lucky though, as he was disqualified in his heat for false starting, after an earlier disruption in the same heat.

Eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt, running his last 100m event at these championships, got off to his customary slow start, but powered into the semis with a 10.07sec winning time.

Like Roto, also not making further progress, was big Victor Hogan in the men’s discus qualifying round.

He threw 62.26m in Group B (first throw 61.76m), which missed out on making the final.

In his defence, Hogan is still extremely ring-rusty after completing a doping suspension and has been playing catch-up in Europe in a bid to get competition ready.

His 62.26 placed him 18th of 30 legal throwers on Friday, and he would have had to throw a 63.23 to make the final.

Another South African not going through was the rainbow nation’s third long jumper, Zarck Visser, who could only jump 7.66 on Friday, well shy of the automatic 8.05m qualifying distance.

The only South African in action, in the evening’s only final, was veteran Stephen Mokoka in the 10,000m event.

In front of a passionate home crowd, Britain’s Mo Farrah won in a world-leading 26min 49.51sec to go halfway to a third World Championships 5000/10000m double.

Once again the East African threat failed to work together to nullify Farrah’s frightening end-speed. Mokoka ended 20th of 22 finishers in 28:14.67sec, a season’s best time to act as some compensation.

Picture of Semenya and first-placed Dibaba courtesy of  Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images). Pictures of Manyonga and Simbine courtesy of Roger Sedres/ImageSA


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