By Mark Etheridge
It was girl power representing South Africa at Thursday night’s Diamond League meeting in Rome, Italy.
Wenda Nel and Dominique Scott-Efurd were the only South Africans in action at the fourth Diamond League meeting of the season.
Nel was lining up on the back off a 54.66sec win in Poland three days prior to last night, and this was only her third 400m hurdles race of the season.
On this occasion she clipped 0.08sec off her Polish performance, with 54.58 good for the podium behind Jamaica’s Janieve Russell (54.14) and former training partner Sara Petersen (54.35). All three times were season’s bests.
‘Yes, it was a really nice race,’ she told the SASCOC website. ‘I ended nice and strongly and am really looking forward to this season.
‘I’m on the point of running consistent times of 54sec and hopefully the 53sec will come quickly now.’
Nel will also be buoyed by the fact that she beat world champion Zuzan Hejnova, the Czech runner looking decidedly lethargic in the final 50m.
At this stage, Nel’s next race is pencilled in for 9 July in London.
Meanwhile Nel’s fellow Rio Olympian, Scott, placed 13th in the final track race of the evening, the 5000m.
While Hellen Obiri won in 14min 18.37sec after a stunning solo breakaway effort, Scott (who turns 25 later this month) was quietly going about improving her personal best to 15min 20.10sec and a B-standard qualifying standard for the IAAF World Championships in London later this year.
Prior to Rome her previous best for the 12.5-lapper was the 15:24.60 she set in Palo Alto, US last month.
Next Diamond League action is Oslo, Norway on 18 June.