Cape Town - It wasn’t the time she was hoping for, but Caster Semenya still got the crowd going in the 400m at the Varsity Athletics meet in Stellenbosch on Thursday night.
The withdrawal of Maties’ star sprinter Justine Palframan earlier on Thursday due to a hamstring niggle took the edge off the race as she has a faster personal best in the 400m than Pukke’s Semenya.
So the 2012 London Olympic silver medallist in the 800m had to run virtually on her own upfront at Coetzenburg in striking pink-purple spikes and crossed the line in a rather pedestrian time of 53.17 seconds.
It was well short of Semenya’s 400m best of 51.47 that she ran last month, and she voiced her displeasure afterwards. “No, not really, not happy with the time,” the 2009 800m world champion told SuperSport TV despite a wide smile on her face.
“I was expecting at least 52 low, but anyway, it’s okay. Just to collect the points for the team.
“Obviously I’m quite excited about SA champs next week, going into nationals with an (Olympic) qualifier. We will try to go maybe under two minutes, if the conditions are good. I can get a good line-up in the Diamond League (to go for faster times).”
Semenya told Independent Media on Wednesday that after next weekend’s SA championships, also at Coetzenburg in Stellenbosch, she was planning to race the first Diamond League meeting in Doha, Qatar on May 6 before moving to Europe for her final preparations for the Rio Olympics in August.
But the outstanding performance of the night came from SA long jump champion Ruswahl Samaai, who broke the Varsity record with an excellent Olympic qualifying distance of 8.20m with his last jump of the night, after earlier producing 8.15m, which was on the qualifying mark.
While Semenya was the star attraction on Thursday night, there were a few other notable performances, particularly among the women. National long jump champion Lynique Prinsloo from the University of Johannesburg leapt to 6.41m, just 29cm short of an Olympic qualifying distance, while young UWC sprinter Tamzin Thomas blazed away to a good time, at the coast, of 11.79 seconds in the 100m.
Pukke high jumper Julia du Plessis never quite got going on the day, but walked away with a Varsity record at least of 1.83m, which was short of her personal best of 1.88m.
Former Paarl schoolgirl and Youth Olympic champion Gezelle Magerman did well to hold off a strong field in the 400m hurdles with 58.52.
In the men’s division, Tuks athlete Constant Pretorius ran the quickest time on the night in the 400m hurdles with 51.21, three-tenths of a second faster than teammate Leroux Hamman, who recorded 51.51 in his race.
Women’s High Jump
1 Julia du Plessis (Pukke) 1.83m
Women’s 400m Hurdles
1 Gezelle Magerman (Tuks) 58.52
Women’s Long Jump
1 Lynique Prinsloo (UJ) 6.41m
1 Caster Semenya (Pukke) 53.17
1 Tamzin Thomas (UWC) 11.79
1 Rynhardt van Rensburg (UFS) 1:48.71
Men’s 400m hurdles
1 Constant Pretorius (Tuks) 51.21
1 Chad Herman 75.70m (Tuks)
Men’s Long Jump
1 Ruswahl Samaai (UJ) 8.20m@IndyCapeSport