Middle-distance queen Caster Semenya obliterated her South African 1000m best, chopping four seconds off her previous best to get within almost two seconds of the world mark at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rabat on Friday evening.
Semenya was in hot pursuit of the pacesetter and ran the majority of the race on her own, crossing the line in a time of 2:31.01.
She launched herself into sixth place on the world all-time performers' list with her nearest rival Ce’Aira Brown of the United States dipping behind her in 2:35.85.
“It was a very good race, but unfortunately it was not as fast as I expected,” Semenya said.
“I hope to be here next year because it is always nice to be in Africa.”
Meanwhile, South Africa’s campaign at the at the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland came to an emphatic end with Sokwakhana Zazini winning the gold medal in the men’s 400m hurdles final.
Zazini won the country’s third gold medal championships, and the second one-lap hurdles title following Zeney van der Walt’s winning run on Friday.
The South African had to dig deep to add the junior title to the world youth crown from 2017, crossing the line in 49.42 seconds.
Earlier, diminutive high jumper Breyton Poole won a share of the bronze medal with a jump of 2.23 metres on countback.
Bowing out of the championships with three gold and a bronze medal, South Africa is lying in fourth place with a day to spare and are expected to finish considerably better than the 22nd overall position from two years ago.
Shot-put sensation Kyle Blignaut got South Africa’s campaign off to a flying start when he clinched the gold medal with a mammoth 22.07 metres on the opening night.
But it was Zazini that brought the curtain down in style as he dipped below 50 seconds over the senior hurdles for the eighth time this year.
He had Qatari Bassem Hemeida and Alison Dos Santos of Brazil pushing him to the line with the South African brushing off the challenge for a well-deserved victory.
Hemeida finished second with a time of 49.59 with Dos Santos bagging the bronze clocking 49.78.
During the morning session, Poole made a strong challenge to add the junior title to his youth title in the high jump.
His challenge was thwarted by Greek athlete Antonios Merlos and Mexico’s Roberto Vilches, who shared the gold medal on countback after they both cleared 2.23m on their first attempts.
Poole in turn tied for the bronze with the United States’ JuVaughn Blake with the duo also clearing 2.23m but only on their second attempts.@ockertde