Caster Semenya celebrates after winning gold in the women's 800-meters at the World Athletics Championships. Photo: AP Photo/Matt Dunham

JOHANNESBURG - Two of the country’s newly crowned world champions, Caster Semenya and Luvo Manyonga, will be looking to extend their impressive unbeaten runs with Diamond League titles.

The dynamic duo will spearhead SA’s charge with six more of their compatriots featuring in the first of two finals in Zurich on Thursday night.

Treble world champion Semenya could claim an unprecedented 20th major victory in a final on the trot and retain the Diamond Trophy she won last year.

Semenya has not lost a single two-lap race since September 6, 2015, at the ISTAF Berlin meeting.

Manyonga, in turn, will be looking to finish his season having gone unbeaten for a full calendar year since finishing second at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

London world championship long-jump bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai and 100m finalist Akani Simbine will also be in action. 

Simbine will be looking for some sort of redemption after he had to be content with a fifth-place finish at a major championship for the second consecutive year.

The speedster will line up against reigning world champion Justin Gatlin of the US. Simbine and Gatlin are the only two 100m finalists from the world championships that will line up in the Diamond League race.

Long jumpers Manyonga and Samaai will be joined by former national record-holder Khotso Mokoena, who is the only other South African who has won a Diamond Race season title. 

Semenya will once again line up against perennial challenger Rio 2016 and London silver medallist Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and former world champion Eunice Sum of Kenya. 

South African men’s 400m hurdles record-holder, LJ van Zyl, considers the Zurich Diamond League final as his world championships after he was controversially left out of the national team for the global showpiece, despite meeting the IAAF standards.

Van Zyl’s roommate in Zurich, Pieter Conradie, meanwhile, will feature in the 400m final after double champion Wayde van Niekerk pulled out of the race due to a persistent back injury.

Programme: SA athletes

8.05pm women's 400m hurdles (Wenda Nel),  8.45pm men's long jump (Ruswahl Samaai, Luvo Manyonga and Khotso Mokoena), 8.49pm 400m men's hurdles (LJ van Zyl), 8.58pm women's 800m (Caster Semenya), 9.08pm men's 100m (Akani Simbine), 9.43pm men's 400m (Pieter Conradie)

The Star

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