Cape Town — Caster Semenya cruised to victory in the 2 000m, while Carina Horn made a successful return to the track at the Athletics South Africa Grand Prix 3 event at the NWU McArthur Stadium in Potchefstroom on Wednesday night.
There were hopes that Semenya could chase down Zola Budd’s SA record of 5:38.07, set in 1991, following her strong showing in the 3 000m in Cape Town a few weeks ago, where she ran a new personal best time of 8:54.97.
Youngster Danielle Verster did an admirable job of the pace-making duties over the first two laps, but it was difficult for Semenya to maintain the SA record pace running on her own afterwards, and she claimed victory in a time of 5:50.39.
But the two-time 800m Olympic champion will be satisfied with her night’s work in what was nothing more than a training run for her ahead of the national championships, where she will tackle the 5 000m and hope to qualify for the world championships.
South African 100m record-holder Horn made a fine return to the track with a victory in a time of 11.50 seconds.
Horn has been out of action for the past two years due to a positive dope test in 2019, where she appealed a four-year ban, which was reduced to two years.
The 33-year-old, in her first competitive race in her comeback, was a bit sluggish out of the blocks, but once she reached the 50-metre mark, that trademark high-leg running style was in full flight.
Phindile Kubheka took charge for most of the race in lane five, but Horn — in lane nine — eventually caught up and dipped at the line. There were some deliberations by the officials as it was a tight finish, but Horn was handed the victory, with Kubheka second in 11.52, followed by Boipelo Tshemese in third (11.57).
In the men’s 200m, 100m star Akani Simbine tackled the more unfamiliar sprint to kickoff his season, and it was a difficult night for the Commonwealth Games champion.
Simbine made a good enough start, but as he got to the bend, it was clear that he was just off the pace, with Luxolo Adams powering through the middle.
Adams took the initiative all the way to the line to win in an excellent time of 20.28 seconds, which was just outside the world champs qualifying mark of 20.24.
Botswana’s 100m junior world champion Letsile Tebogo finished second in 20.45, while SA youngster Sinesipho Dambile — who is a 200m world junior bronze medallist — ended third in 20.68. Simbine faded on the home straight to claim eighth in 21.08.
In the 100m sprint, African record-holder Ferdinand Omanyala of Kenya was pushed hard by South African Clarence Munyai, but was able to power through to victory in a time of 10.11.
Omanyala, who ran his 9.77 record time last September, didn’t have the best of starts, but his strong frame took him to the finish line ahead of Munyai, who clocked 10.20, with Emile Erasmus third in 10.28.
Tokyo Olympic finalist Kyle Blignaut gained revenge on his recent defeat to his close rival Jason van Rooyen with victory at the NWU McArthur Athletics Stadium on a chilly night.
Blignaut produced a 20.13m effort in his first round, and that was good enough to hold off Van Rooyen, who took second place in 20.03m.
1 Carina Horn 11.50
2 Phindile Kubheka 11.52
3 Boipelo Tshemese 11.57
1 Prudence Sekgodisa 2:01.89
2 Oratile Nowe (Botswana) 2:05.34
3 Marli Dimond 2:05.77
Women’s 2 000m
1 Caster Semenya 5:50.39
2 Welna Nkuna 6:35.49
3 Mieke Smit 6:39.16
1 Ferdinand Omanyala (Kenya) 10.11
2 Clarence Munyai 10.20
3 Emile Erasmus 10.28
1 Luxolo Adams 20.28
2 Letsile Tebogo (Botswana) 20.45
3 Sinesipho Dambile 20.68
Men’s Shot Put
1 Kyle Blignaut 20.13m
2 Jason van Rooyen 20.03m
3 Aiden Smith 17.28m