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Super Semenya on the double ahead of Gold Coast

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Commonwealth Games-bound Caster Semenya capped a great final day of the national track and field championships in Pretoria on Saturday.

Heading for next month’s Games in Gold Coast, Australia, Rio Olympic 800-metre champion Semenya showed she’s in the form of her life as she added the 800m title to the 1500m she won earlier in the championships.

Her winning time of 1min 57.80sec was her quickest ever on home soil.

‘It’s a great time. Obviously we always want to experience something new,’ Semenya (pictured above) said. ‘We need to try and run the same pace at home that we run in the European season. We’re doing this for our people, and it’s all about growing South African athletics.’

World champion Luvo Manyonga who is also heading to the Gold Coast  leapt to 8.41m (see above) to win the long jump, 20 cm clear of 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai.

‘I feel great, and happy to compete in front of a South African crowd,’ Manyonga said. ‘I’m happy with my performance today and it’s my first outdoor (meeting of the season), so I’m excited for more competition.’

Meanwhile, 17-year-old world youth champion Zeney van der Walt stunned the crowd by grabbing silver in the women’s 400m hurdles final.

In a gutsy performance, she was edged out by Olympian Wenda Nel (see the close finish above) who won gold in 55.01 seconds. Van der Walt held on for second place in 55.05, breaking the SA junior record of 55.74 set by Myrtle Bothma in Bloemfontein 35 years ago.

‘I just ran my own race and focused on my own 10 hurdles,’ Van der Walt said. ‘This gives me a lot of confidence, and now I know I can reach my sub-55 goal.’

Like Semenya sprinter Justine Palframan won a double – the women’s 200m and 400m titles.

She clocked 22.97 and 51.31 respectively, impressive going when one considers the events were just 45 minutes apart.

‘It’s not what I expected,’ said a delighted Palframan (pictured above). ‘Going into the 400m I tried not to be negative because my body was feeling a bit tired,’ Palframan said. ‘When I crossed the line and saw 51sec, I had to look twice. ‘There’s no way to explain it. I’m very excited.’

In other events, Luxolo Adams won the men’s 200m final in 20.08 after new national record holder Clarence Munyai withdrew and Lindsay Hanekom took the men’s 400m hurdles in 49.17, dragging five men under the 50-second barrier.

In the morning session, Wayne Snyman won the 20km race walk in 1:24:58 in cold and wet conditions, in the absence of SA record holder Lebogang Shange who withdrew from the event for personal reasons.

Pictures all courtesy of Roger Sedres/ImageSA


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