Cape Town – Does South Africa have a new 800m star to cheer on the world’s athletics tracks?
After the discrimination experienced by two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya, youngster Prudence Sekgodiso is set to take over her mantle in the two-lap event.
The 20-year-old Gauteng North athlete produced a stunning performance to beat 27-year-old Ugandan world champion Halimah Nakaayi at the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi on Saturday to announce her arrival as a serious contender on the international circuit.
Sekgodiso, who won the SA 800m and 1 500m double in Cape Town recently in times of 2:03.31 and 4:16.38 respectively, outlasted Nakaayi and the rest of the field at the World Athletics Continental Tour event in Kenya to set a new 800m personal best of 1:58.41.
Nakaayi finished fifth in 2:00.93, with Kenyan Mary Moraa second in 1:59.87.
It was an incredible feat by Sekgodiso, whose time also eclipsed the qualifying standard of 1:59.50 for the world championships in July.
Sekgodiso’s effort was the second-fastest by a South African woman, behind Semenya’s record of 1:54.25, and the second-fastest in 2022 – with American Allie Wilson running 1:58.18 in California on Friday.
The 1:58.41 time would have placed Sekgodiso in 20th position overall on the 2021 list, so it proves that she is now a world-class competitor who will only get faster with further exposure to the top athletes going forward.
What a breakthrough!— Continental Tour Gold (@ContiTourGold) May 7, 2022
South Africa's Prudence Sekgodiso beats world champion Halimah Nakaayi and smashes her personal best 🇿![CDATA]>🇦
1:58:41 WL pic.twitter.com/cUWyjlvzhk
Sekgodiso was not the only local athlete to fly the South African flag in Nairobi, with Miranda Coetzee streaking to victory in the 400m in a new personal best of 51.50 seconds.
The other South African female in action, sprinter Shirley Nekhubui, ended seventh in the 200m in a time of 23.40.
On the men’s side, former SA record-holder Henricho Bruintjies continued his comeback after a few seasons of injury issues with a commendable time of 10.13 to finish fourth in the 100m race.
Bruintjies was always up against it as the likes of African record-holder Ferdinand Omanyala and Americans Fred Kerley, Isiah Young, Kenneth Bednarek and Michael Rodgers were in the field, and it was Omanyala who took the honours in a blisteringly quick 9.85. He was followed by Kerley in 9.92, with Young third in 10.13 as well.
Tshepo Tshite lined up in the 800m and just missed out on a world championship qualifying time in claiming third position in 1:45.51.
In the javelin event, Johan Grobler also grabbed the bronze with a 79.11m throw.