PARIS - At the halfway point of the 2018 IAAF Diamond League, six South Africans are in with a shot of reaching the finals at the last two meetings of the year in August.
South African middle-distance ace Caster Semenya is aiming to collect both the 800m and the 1 500m Diamond Trophies. While a few women have won double series titles in sprint events it is a feat yet to be accomplished over the middle distances.
She leads the Diamond race with 16 points, just three ahead of Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi. Semenya is currently lying in seventh place in the 1 500m and could make up some crucial points when she lines up in Lausanne five days after the Paris meeting on Saturday. Britain’s Laura Muir leads the rankings over the three and a quarter lap race with 14 points, with Semenya four behind.
World long-jump champion Luvo Manyonga leads his specialist event and has already booked his place in the final with 22 points. Olympic champion Jeff Henderson of the United States and Cuban sensation Juan Miguel Echevarria already have their names down for the final on 17 and 15 points respectively.
Manyonga is looking to win back-to-back Diamond Trophies but faces a serious threat from Echevarria who leapt to a mammoth, wind-aided 8.83 metres at the Stockholm Diamond League meeting bringing Manyonga’s unbeaten reign of close to two years to an end. Two-time Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai is joint fourth on 11 points.
Striving for perfection 🛫 pic.twitter.com/SquB4t725w
South African women’s100m record holder Carina Horn finds herself among the top-eight women in the series with 10 points behind her name after finishing fifth at the Doha Diamond League and sixth in Oslo and Stockholm.
Sprinter Akani Simbine is currently one point outside the top eight and will be looking to launch himself up the rankings with a solid performance in Paris. Surprise package Luxolo Adams is experiencing a breakthrough season and is currently lying in eighth place in the Diamond race.
Meanwhile, South African 200m record holder Clarence Munyai announced the premature end to a promising season. He stormed to a new national mark of 19.69 at the South African championships in March before a hamstring injury struck in the semi-final at the Commonwealth Games.
“I am incredibly sad and disappointed to have to withdraw from the rest of the 2018 season,” Munyai said in a statement released by Newton Agency. “But with feeling pain in my hamstring, my team and I feel it is best to undergo further investigations to find the cause rather than risk further injury by competing.”
Ockert de Villiers is attending the Paris Diamond League courtesy of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).