JOHANNESBURG - Commonwealth Games champion Akani Simbine led South Africa’s charge at the Ostrava Golden Spike meeting in the Czech Republic on Wednesday night, finishing second in his specialist 100m sprint event.
Performing nowhere near his full potential, the national 100 metres record-holder Simbine still managed to finish second against a quality field. World champion Justin Gatlin of the United States clocked a season’s best of 10.03 seconds.
South Africa’s sub-10 second man Simbine has not dipped below the magical mark this season, boasting a season’s best of 10.03 he clocked to win the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games title in April. Simbine finished strongly on Wednesday, pipping American Mike Rodgers, who has clocked the fastest time this year, to the line with a time of 10.13. Rodgers had to be content with third place with 10.15.
The long-jump competition provided the expected fireworks, with Cuban star Juan Miguel Echevarria breaking the meeting record with every single leap into the sandpit. World champion Luvo Manyonga spent two rounds in third place after an opening effort of 7.95m, before a third jump of 8.31m relegated compatriot Ruswahl Samaai to the last step of the podium.
But all eyes were on Echevarria, who opened with a jump of 8.40m to break the previous record of 8.35m held by Cuban legend Ivan Pedroso. Echevarria leapt to a world lead on his third attempt with a mammoth winning jump of 8.66m, while boasting two identical 8.54m efforts in the second and fifth rounds.
Manyonga may not have been able to beat the Cuban, but can take comfort in the fact that he is finding the board. He recorded four legal jumps, after receiving five red flags at the Stockholm Diamond League meeting over the weekend.
Former world 200m bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana looked sluggish in the half-lap race, finishing sixth with a time of 20.48. Canadian sprinter Aaron Brown won the race with a time of 20.05, with Jereem Richards edging world champion Ramil Guliyev on a photo finish, with the two sharing a time of 20.09.
Two-time African discus champion Victor Hogan finished seventh in his specialist event with a heave of 62.28m. Andrius Gudzius of Lithuania won the competition with a best effort of 66.30m.
High jumper Chris Moleya tied for eighth place, getting over the bar at 2.15m ,with Qatari phenom Mutaz Barshim winning with a meeting record of 2.38m.