JOHANNESBURG – Six South African athletes have qualified for the Diamond League finals in their respective events after the conclusion of the final regular meeting of the series in Birmingham on Saturday.
The Diamond League finals will be held in Zurich and Brussels on August 30 and 31 respectively.
Caster Semenya will be looking to win both the 800m and 1 500m Diamond Trophies, but will have it all to do with the Zurich and Brussels meets a day after each other.
Carina Horn has qualified for the women’s 100m final while Wenda Nel has managed to book a lane in the 400m hurdles.
South African long-jump kings Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai will be battling it out for the top spot in their specialist event, while speed merchant Akani Simbine will back into the blocks in the 100m final.
Manyonga highlighted his prowess in the sandpit when he kicked sand in his rivals’ faces in Birmingham.
He leapt to a new meeting record of 8.53 metres in the non-Diamond event to get back to winning ways after losing to Samaai at the African Championships in Asaba, Nigeria earlier this month.
“I’m quite happy with that. The people watching were amazing in getting behind us no matter where you’re from,” Manyonga told the Diamond League website. “I was surprised that it was a meeting record and it shows I’m in good shape.”
The peerless Manyonga opened with an 8.42m jump before inducing two red flags in the second and third rounds. His nearest rival, Tajay Gayle of Jamaica, finished in a distant second place with a best jump of 8.17m.
The rest of the South African contingent had a tough day on the track where they failed to get onto the podium.
Newly-crowned African 100m champion Simbine had to be content with a sixth place in the final clocking 10.09.
World 100m silver medallist Christian Coleman won the race by a whisker beating Great Britain’s Reece Prescod to the line in a photo finish with both sprinters clocking 9.94.
Nel finished in sixth place with a pedestrian 57.51 seconds continuing her struggle for form but it was good enough for the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist to earn a place in the prestigious Diamond final.
European champion Lea Sprunger crossed the line in first place posting a time of 54.86 with Jamaican Janieve Russel bagging silver with 54.91.
African 110m hurdles champion Antonio Alkana missed out on a spot in the Birmingham final finishing sixth in his heat with a time of 13.59.@ockertde