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SA 800m champion Prudence Sekgodiso produces classy display in Rabat Diamond League debut

FILE - Prudence Sekgodiso was in fine form in the Rabat diamond league 800m race finising in second place. Photo: Tony Karumba/AFP

FILE - Prudence Sekgodiso was in fine form in the Rabat diamond league 800m race finising in second place. Photo: Tony Karumba/AFP

Published Jun 6, 2022

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Cape Town – Prudence Sekgodiso was all class as she entered the final straight in the lead, but she was caught just before the end to finish a creditable second in the women’s 800m at the Diamond League event in Rabat, Morocco on Sunday night.

The 20-year-old South African star, who did the 800m-1 500m double at the national championships in Cape Town in April, expressed her excitement to IOL Sport earlier this week about competing in her first ever Diamond League race.

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“I’m not too sure (about the rest of the Diamond League field), but the goal there is to place, not to win. If I win it, it’s a bonus! The plan is to run a PB (personal best) there also,” Sekgodiso told IOL Sport at the Green Point Athletics Stadium, where she was taking part in the Under Armour ALL OUT MILE race on Wednesday night, which she won easily.

“Competing in the Diamond League is a dream for me. It finally came true, so ja, I am excited. I haven’t seen the starting list and I don’t have much pressure. The goal there is to just be in the top five. If I win, it’s a bonus…”

ALSO READ: Competing in the Diamond League is a dream come true for me, says excited Sekgodiso

Well, Sekgodiso nearly pulled it off. The Gauteng North athlete, who hails from Limpopo, kept her cool on the first lap as she settled in behind the pacemaker and two other athletes, but after the bell, she made her move.

Sekgodiso ran on the shoulder of Kenya’s Mary Moraa until about the 600m mark and then she cruised into the lead as she showcased her smooth running technique.

It looked like the South African was going to triumph in front of a boisterous crowd at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium –the same venue where Bafana Bafana will face Morocco in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Thursday.

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But she didn’t reckon on Moraa, who looked to be out on her feet, from finding a second wind, and the Kenyan athlete kicked at just the right time to win in a time of one minute, 58.93 seconds (1:58.93).

ALSO READ: Caster Semenya an inspiration, but Prudence Sekgodiso’s running her own race

Sekgodiso had to be satisfied with second place in 1:59.23, which was short of her personal best of 1:58.41, which she set a few weeks ago in Nairobi when she beat reigning world champion Halimah Nakaayi of Uganda.

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But Sekgodiso was all smiles afterwards on the Rabat track, and she will look to push even harder at the African championships in Mauritius, which starts on Wednesday.

In the men’s 200m, SA’s Luxolo Adams stormed out of the blocks and maintained his pace throughout to clinch second spot in a time of 20.35 seconds.

Adams will be satisfied with that performance, which is not far off his season’s best of 20.28, although it was still short of a world qualifying effort of 20.24.

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American Kenny Bednarek surged to the front early on and remained ahead of Adams all the way to the line to win in 20.21, with Adams followed by Italian Eseosa Desalu in 20.54.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Prudence Sekgodiso could be ‘new Caster Semenya’ after beating Halimah Nakaayi in 800m

Ruswahl Samaai was unable to reach the eight-metre mark in the men’s long jump, but it was at least a season’s best effort of 7.73m as he finished sixth, with Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglu of Greece winning the competition with a leap of 8.27m.

There were two South Africans in action in the Janusz Kusocinski Memorial in Chorzow, Poland on Sunday as well.

Zakithi Nene ran the race of his life to set a new personal best in the men’s 400m with a time of 44.92, which beat his previous best of 45.03, but it was just short of the world championship qualifying mark of 44.90.

But Nene will be delighted with his second-place finish behind Alexander Ogando of the Dominican Republic (44.68), and he will hope to go even faster in the coming weeks.

SA 110m hurdles champion Antonio Alkana clocked 13.52 seconds to end fourth, with Rafael Pereira of Brazil winning in 13.28.

Earlier in the weekend, SA 800m star Tshepo Tshite posted a qualifying time for the world championships by finishing second at the Irena Szewinska Memorial meeting at the Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak Stadium in Bydgoszcz, Poland on Friday night.

Tshite set a new personal best of 1:44.59 to secure his ticket to Eugene, Oregon, beating his previous mark of 1:44.69 as he finished behind Dutch athlete Tony van Diepen, who took the honours in 1:44.31.

At the same event, Sokwakhana Zazini nearly reached the qualifying time in the men’s 400m hurdles as he produced a solid time of 49.17 for second – which is just shy of the required 48.90 – behind American Khallifah Rosser, who claimed the victory in 48.23, while Alkana ended in third position in his race in a time of 13.63, having run 13.58 in his heat.

@ashfakmohamed

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