PAARL – A wonky stadium clock overshadowed the final leg of the Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix Series in Paarl on Thursday evening, as finding reliable times became a guessing game.
The only result that could not be corrupted by incompetent timing people came courtesy of local wunderkind Ruswahl Samaai in the men’s long jump.
Samaai gave his home town a world-class display by launching a season’s best 8.39m on his first attempt at the Dal Josaphat Stadium.
“I knew I was going to jump it today, I felt it was coming, so for me to jump a season’s best tonight is fantastic,” Samaai said.
“For now, the most important thing is just to stay healthy and improve where I possibly can.”
Finishing second behind Samaai, Cheswell Johnson leapt to a new personal best of 8.12m, with Zarck Visser bagging bronze with 7.99m.
Samaai is showing serious form ahead of next month’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, where he will be looking to improve on the bronze from four years ago.
He leapt over 8.10m with every of his five attempts.
“I’m just glad I got everything in tonight, so everything is consistent, which is the most important thing,” Samaai said.
“Consistency is the key to getting to the next dimension, so for me to be jumping 8.30, 8.39 and 8.20s just shows something big is coming.”
His jump moved him into second place in the world this year behind Cuba’s rising star Juan Miguel Echevarria.
The men’s 200m produced one of the best performances of the meeting despite the stadium clock extinguishing some of the excitement.
When 21-year-old South African champion Luxolo Adams crossed the line, the clock flashed 19.78, which would have been the second fastest time ever by a South African.
The official time, however, was still an impressive 20.01, with Adams shaving 0.07 off his previous best he posted at the South African Track and Field Championships in Pretoria.
It was a battle royale between Adams and 2015 world bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana.
Adams pipped the former national record-holder at the line, with Jobodwana clocking a creditable 20.07.
“I wasn’t expecting this, but before the race I knew I was running with Anaso, so I had to bring my A-race,” Adams said.
“I think I can do more as time goes by.”
The wind swirled at the Dal Josaphat Stadium in the shadow of the Drakenstein Mountain range in Paarl.
It ultimately did little to aid Caster Semenya in what was billed as an attempt on Zola Budd’s 34-year-old 1 500m record.
As Semenya lined up for the race, officials were trying to fix the stadium clock, with spectators left in the dark as to whether she was on record-breaking pace.
Dominique Scott-Efurd remained in Semenya’s shadow at the bell before the three-time world champion opened some daylight.
When Semenya crossed the line, it was announced she had broken the record, only to be told minutes later that she had stopped more than a second short.
Semenya had posted an official time of 4:02.50, with Scott-Efurd missing out on a PB, clocking 4:08.61.
“It was a good race, the plan was just to maintain and just try to relax as much as we can,” Semenya said.
“It was all about running a good rhythm; I was not here to break any record.”
Bringing the curtain down on the evening, Akani Simbine proved why he is the man to beat in the 100m.
Simbine crossed the line in a time of 10.08, even though the clock showed 9.85.
Simon Magakwe finished second behind him in 10.24, with Henricho Bruintjies ending third in 10.27.