Ruswahl Samaai soars through the air at the Diamond League meeting in Zurich on Thursday. Photo: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Ruswahl Samaai kept the South African flag flying at the Diamond League meeting in Zurich on Thursday night with a second-place finish.

World championship bronze medallist Samaai showed all his fighting spirit to leap to 8.20m in the fourth round, having had a no-jump with his second effort.

The Paarl athlete was unable to improve on his distance, though, but he will be delighted to have ended up behind Cuban sensation Juan Miguel Echevarria.

The 21-year-old, who is the current indoor world champion, proved that he will be one of the favourites for the outdoor title in Doha next month with a magnificent jump of 8.65m.

That was just 3cm short of his personal best, and secured him three other accolades – a Diamond League record, meeting record and a world lead.

Samaai pushed Jamaican Tajay Gayle, who also reached 8.20m, into third on count-back.

But it was a disappointing night at the Weltklasse event for world champion Luvo Manyonga, who managed only 8.19m in his first jump and couldn’t improve in his five other attempts.

A third South African, Zarck Visser – who incidentally produced the previous 2019 world lead of 8.41m in March – registered just one legal jump of 7.60m to finish last out of eight participants.

The only local athlete on the track was 100m sprinter Akani Simbine, who was lining up alongside American stars Noah Lyles, Michael Rodgers and veteran Justin Gatlin, as well as Jamaican Yohan Blake.

But Commonwealth Games champion Simbine never quite got going, and 200m star Lyles pulled off somewhat of a surprise to win in 9.98 seconds.

Simbine ended fifth with a time of 10.10, behind Xie Zhenye, Blake and Gatlin.

“I followed my race plan, my execution was great. I feel pretty good. The race was not as fast as I wanted. To be honest, I do not remember much of the race. I only remember the start, and there was an ending. That is all,” Lyles told the Diamond League website.

“The 200m in Doha, that is definitely a sure thing. Today was like a World Championships final for me, as I will not do the 100m in Doha. I will compete in Brussels next week. You will see me in the 200m there.”

@ashfakmohamed


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