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Caster shines at Green Point

Caster Semenya wowed a sparse but enthusiastic crowd with an 800m Olympic qualifying time in the Athletics South Africa Night Series at the Green Point Stadium on Tuesday night.

File Photo: Caster Semenya wowed a sparse but enthusiastic crowd with an 800m Olympic qualifying time in the Athletics South Africa Night Series at the Green Point Stadium. Lucy Nicholson. Credit: Reuters

But the former world champion and Olympic silver medallist said afterwards that she can go much faster, and is aiming for a sub-two-minute time at the SA National Championships in Stellenbosch in April.

The 25-year-old Semenya didn’t have much opposition in her race and had to run in front from the start. She pulled off a fairly quick time of around 60 seconds for the opening lap, and managed to maintain her speed to the end to finish in a time of 2min 00.23sec.

Second-placed athlete Lize Kellerman was over six seconds behind in 2:06.73.

“Yeah, I am quite happy with the time. The way I ran my splits, we are more even, so that’s a main thing for us. That’s what we’ve been working for during these past two months. So I’m happy with the work, and now I have to go back and try to train for under two minutes,” Semenya said afterwards.

“It’s all about hard work, the mentality. Physically. If you combine all those elements, nothing can defeat you. So it doesn’t matter who is in the race and if you are alone. The race is all about times.”

Semenya ran a 400m personal best of 51.47 recently as part of her speed work for the 800m, and said she could even compete in the shorter distance at the Rio Olympics in August.

“We have to go back a bit – we’ve run two minutes, and we want to maybe run one race before the SA’s (national championships), and then we want to go under the two-minute barrier at the SA’s,” she said.

“We want to go at least 50 (seconds) in the 400m, so it can be easier for the European season. The main thing now is to just run behind the pace-maker, so we can run better times.

“We haven’t decided yet (on running 400m at Olympics), but I hope so! But it’s not about me – it’s all about the teamwork with the guys and see if we can manage a five-day programme without a rest.”

The other big-name athlete to shine on the night was 100m sprinter Henricho Bruintjies, who clocked 10.26. It was some way off his personal best of 9.97, and Akani Simbine’s SA record of 9.96, but it was a reasonable time at sea level.

“The time was a really good time, running at coastal level. And I think it was my season’s best, so I’m happy with the time. I think there’s still a lot of time (to run an Olympic qualifying time) to get it, and I’ve run a qualifying time last year already in the qualification period. So, I think I just need to pull out one or two good races to show that I’m in form,” he said.

Two other stand-out performances on the night came in the men’s 400m hurdles and 5 000m. There was a thrilling finish in the men’s 400m hurdles, where 2011 World Championship bronze medallist and South African record-holder LJ van Zyl was pushed all the way by his Tuks teammate Lindsay Hanekom.

The 22-year-old Hanekom, who hails from Blackheath in Cape Town, matched Van Zyl stride for stride in the final straight, but the 30-year-old Van Zyl just held on for victory in an excellent time of 49.74, with Hanekom coming in at a new personal best of 49.81, eclipsing his previous mark of 50 seconds flat.

Van Zyl’s time was just off the Olympic qualifying mark of 49.40, but he is sure to go quicker, perhaps as soon as the SA National Championships in Stellenbosch on April 15-16.

Middle-distance star Elroy Gelant was chasing the SA 5 000m record of 13:11.44, but couldn’t get there in the end, finishing in 13:20.70, which was also an Olympic qualifying time.

Selected Green Point Results

Men’s 1 500m

1 Dumisang Hlaselo 3:38.39

2 Folavio Sehohle 3:41.20

3 Pharsen Magagane 3:42.45

Men’s Pole Vault

1 Chayne Rahme 5.00m

2 Coleman Britz 5.00m

3 Lukas van der Watt 5.00m

Women’s High Jump

1 Julia du Plessis 1.75m

2 Bianka Erwee 1.75m

3 Kristi Snyman 1.70m

Women’s Hammer Throw

1 Stefanie Greyling 56.24m

2 Marga Cummings 54.39m

3 Margo Coetzee 52.34m

Men’s 400m Hurdles

1 LJ van Zyl 49.74

2 Lindsay Hanekom 49.81

3 Le Roux Hamman 50.10

Women’s Shot Put

1 Sonja Smuts 15.08m

2 Nienka du Toit 11.91m

3 Marilize Coetzee 10.20m

Women’s 400m Hurdles

1 Gezelle Magerman 58.38

2 Jean-Marie Senekal 58.89

3 Chanel Leuvennink 61.39

Women’s 100m

1 Alyssa Conley 11.36

2 Tebogo Mamathu 11.49

3 Cherise Jones 11.85

Men’s 100m

1 Henricho Bruintjies 10.26

2 Gideon Trotter 10.31

3 Gift Leotlela 10.34

Men’s 5 000m

1 Elroy Gelant 13:20.70

2 Johan Cronjé 14:07.77

3 Kgosi Tsosane 14:10.44

Women’s 800m

1 Caster Semenya 2:00.23

2 Lize Kellerman 2:06.73

3 Keltso Senosi 2:08.22

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