Olympic long jump silver medallist Khotso Mokoena held off a charge from the youth brigade to defend his title on the opening day of the South African Athletics Championships in Durban on Saturday.
Double amputee Oscar Pistorius, meanwhile, provided for the biggest upset of the day when he failed to progress beyond the semi-finals in the men’s 400m metres sprint, reports Supersport.com
Pistorius, who hopes to qualify for this year’s World Championships and next year’s Olympic Games against able-bodied athletes, finished third in his first round heat in 48.28 to go through as an automatic qualifier.
He placed seventh in the first of two semi-finals, however, crossing the line in 47.40, and was knocked out.
Lebogang Moeng stated his intentions ahead of the final by winning the faster of the two semi-finals in a global championship ‘B’ qualifying time of 45.47.
Mokoena, who leaped 8.29m to secure victory, albeit with a 3.2m following wind, said he had held back to reserve energy for the triple jump final on day two.
“I didn’t push too hard because I’ve got the triple jump tomorrow,” he said. “It’s a hell of a long season, with the World Championships only in August, but guys like Dwight Phillips (of the USA) are getting ready and I need to get on with it.”
World junior long jump champion, Luvo Manyonga, placed second with a best distance of 7.94m, and 17-year-old Rushwal Samaai secured bronze with a jump of 7.80m.
African hammer throw record holder Chris Harmse and distance runner Rene Kalmer both produced solid gold medal-winning performances on a day in which only a handful of finals were contested.
Harmse heaved a best effort of 71.70m to bag his 16th successive national title and stretch his South African record for the most gold medals in the same discipline. The 37-year-old won by more than 10m from his closest competitor.
Kalmer, who was set to compete in a 10km road race in Cape Town on Sunday morning, dominated over 12-and-a-half laps to win by more than 20 seconds from Zintle Xiniwe in 15:42.21, falling less than eight seconds short of her personal best.
World 800m champion Caster Semenya and national 400m hurdles record holder LJ van Zyl probably put in the best performances in qualifying rounds.
Semenya stormed clear in her 800m heat before slamming on the brakes on the second lap and coasting through to win in 2:08.09 in the slower of the two qualifiers.
Defending champion Mapaseka Makhanya led the other heat, crossing the line in 2:07.66.
Van Zyl was the only athlete to dip under 50 seconds in the qualifying rounds of the one-lap hurdles, winning his heat in 49.98. Title holder Cornel Fredericks won the other heat in 50.88.
A group of four men set up a mouth watering men’s 100m final by dipping under 10.30 seconds in the semi-finals.
Defending champion Simon Magakwe led the way with the best qualifying time, clocking 10.18 in the last of three semi-final races to hold off Roscoe Engel by one hundredth of a second.
Magakwe’s time was 0.04 seconds off his career best, while Engel’s 10.19 clocking places him eighth on the South African all-time list.
Hannes Dreyer won the first heat in 10.27 and Leigh Julius took the second in 10.29, and a stellar final was placed on the cards in the shortest track event.
Olympic finalist Juan van Deventer ensured he made it through to the men’s 1 500m final without any glitches after his shock defeat to long distance runner Stephen Mokoka at last year’s championships.
Van Deventer ran from the front and finished in 3:37.95 in his first race of the season to win his heat by more than two seconds and reach the World Championships B qualifying standard.
Mokoka, who was set to defend his 1 500m and 10 000m titles on day two, won the other heat in 3:43.55.