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Caster Semenya roars home in Diamond League win

Athletics

It was a battle of the best of the best, with seven out of the eight Rio Olympic finalists in the line-up.

But South Africa’s golden girl Caster Semenya showed her absolute class to roar to victory in the home straight in the 800m at the Eugene Diamond League on Saturday night (SA time).

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Caster Semenya crosses the line ahead of Margaret Wambui to win the 800m at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meet. Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports

Semenya adopted her usual strategy of being just behind the front-runners on the first lap as a pace-maker took them way too quickly through the first 600 metres as she was too far ahead of the field.

But Olympic champion Semenya, who was in third position at the time, made her move as the pace-maker left the track, and then it became a test of speed and endurance to the line as she was up against powerful Kenyan Margaret Wambui.

While Wambui was visibly putting in all her effort to keep up, Semenya utilised her usual smooth running style to just stay ahead as they entered the last 100m.

Semenya eventually put on the after-burners, and although she couldn’t completely shake off Wambui, she did just enough to win in 1:57.78, with the Kenyan coming home in 1:57.88.

Burundian star Francine Niyonsaba was a distant third in 1:59.10.

But this is just the start of Semenya’s build-up to the IAAF World Championships, which take place in London in early August.

Meanwhile, AFP reports that arguably the most surprising result of the day came in the women’s 200m, which had been billed as one of the strongest fields ever assembled.

America’s Tori Bowie, a bronze medallist over the distance at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio, blasted to victory in the quickest time of the year in 21.77.

Bowie led from start to finish to come home ahead of Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas in second with 21.91.

Olympic champion Elaine Thompson was third with 21.98, while Dutch star Dafne Schippers was fourth in 22.30. Allyson Felix, the 2012 200m Olympic champion, was fifth in 22.33.

In the men’s 100m, American Ronnie Baker posted a brisk but wind-assisted 9.86 to pip China’s Su Bingtian for victory. Su finished second in 9.92.

Britain’s Chijindu Ujah was third in 9.95, while Canada’s Andre de Grasse was fourth with 9.96.

Mo Farah laid down a marker to his rivals with a superb 5 000m victory as triple jump king Christian Taylor edged ever closer to his dream of a world-record leap.

Mo Farah celebrates after winning the 5 000m at Prefontaine Classic Diamond League event in Eugene, Oregon. Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports


Farah, the four-time Olympic champion who is embarking on his final season of track racing, clocked the fastest time of the year after romping home in 13min 00.70sec at Eugene’s Hayward Field in Oregon.

The 34-year-old British distance running king, who completed a “double-double” of 5 000m and 10 000m gold at last year’s Olympics, said he had been determined to send a message to his challengers as he builds towards his farewell at the World Championships in August.

“For me, it wasn’t about time. It was just a matter of telling the boys ‘Look, I’m ready’,” Farah said.

“A lot of the boys talk a lot. I just want my running to do the talking and get on with it.”

Farah’s brilliant tactical victory was one of seven world-leading performances set across a high quality day of action.

The display of the day came from US triple jump king Taylor, the two-time Olympic and world champion who recorded the third longest leap in history, 18.11m, to win a duel with compatriot Will Claye, who was second with 18.05.

Christian Taylor became the second-ranked triple jumper in history at the Eugene Diamond League on Saturday. Photo: Brian Davies, The Register-Guard via AP


Taylor, 26, is now within striking distance of Jonathan Edwards’ 1995 world record of 18.29m. Afterwards, Taylor admitted pursuit of Edwards’ record was his main motivation.

“It’s the only reason I’m here,” he told AFP. “I’ve got two Olympic titles, two world titles, the American record, I’ve been blessed beyond belief.

“The only thing that kills me now is that I’m number two all-time. And nobody will remember number two. And that’s what’s pushing me every single day,” he added.

IOL Sport

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