New two-lap sensation Caster Semenya was unable to live up to the hype and become the fourth South African woman to dip under the magical 2min barrier for 800m at the SPAR Invitational Prestige meeting at the LC de Villiers Stadium in Pretoria last night.
A fortnight ago at the Yellow Pages Series meeting in Germiston, Semenya had won the 800m in a cracking 2min 00.58sec, giving hope that she would be the fourth athlete, after Zelda Pretorius (1:58.85), Eranee van Zyl (1:59.70) and Ilze Wicksell (1:59.39) to break 2min. That didn’t materialise at last week’s Senior national Championships in Stellenbosch, but Pretoria’s SPAR Invitational meet provided a real opprotunity.
The 400m flyer, estie Wittstock, was to take the runners through the bell in 58sec, on track for 2min, and then the Malaysian champion Noraseela Mohd-Khalid was going to pull Semenya through 600m in under 90sec before dropping off, and leaving the South African talent to make her charge on the clock.
Wittstock did her job to the bell but Mohd Khalid pulled out when Wittstock did (at 400m) complaining of cramps.
Semenya was unable to go it alone and finally sauntered across the line in a relatively pedestrian 2:05. There is no doubt though with better and faster opposition, the 2min barrier will be breached.
University of Johannesburg student, Deone Joubert made use of the high altitude thin air by becoming the first women to jump over 4m in the last two years with a height of 4.10m in the pole vault. This is after she only managed 3.70m at the Nationals last weekend.
Last week Delia Smith sprung the surprise of the meet by beating Janice Josephs (Maties), and last night the Secunda-based athlete repeated the feat beating her 6.15 on a count back with a leap of 6.15, Linique Prinsloo (Temp) was third with a jump of 5.97.
In the absence of national 400m hurdles champion Janet Wienand (Boland) the Malaysian champion, Noraseela Mohd Khalid (who later had cramps in the 800m) managed to reverse her disappointing bronze placing in last week’s Nationals to run out a winner in 57.12.
The 800m pace-setter Estie Wittstock (Tuks) went one place better than the National champs when she won the 400m in 52.90. Her time was considerably slower than the Tsholofelo Thipe’s winning time in Stellenbosch of 51.15.
Elsewhere, Elizna Naude (Tuks) continued her good form with a winning distance of 57.95m in the women’s discus.