Cape Town – There was a mixed bag of results for the four South African athletes at the Bislett Games Diamond League event in Oslo on Thursday night.
Heavy rain made life difficult for the athletes, and although it was not too cold at 19 degrees, the sprinters in particular battled with the wet conditions.
Akani Simbine was the top South African in action on the night in the 100m, which was affected by a false start.
But when the quick men did get out of the blocks, Britain’s Reece Prescod, who had the second-fastest time in the field this year with 9.93, sped out into the lead.
Simbine fought back and came up alongside Prescod over the second 50 metres, but Canada’s Olympic bronze medallist Andre de Grasse drew on all his experience and just pipped Prescod and Simbine on the line to claim the victory in 10.05 – his first sub-10-second time in 2022.
Prescod was second in 10.06, while Simbine did well to get ahead of the rest of the field in third and clocked 10.09 – which was just shy of his season’s best of 10.06 – to beat the fastest man in the field this year, Ghana’s Benjamin Azamati, who ended fourth in 10.15.
The South African star will continue to fine-tune his strategy over the next few weeks as he gets set for the world championships in Eugene, Oregon at the end of July.
“Yesterday, when I came out here I felt pretty good. I know my speed is coming back,” De Grasse told the Diamond League website afterwards.
“The difference is going to be that start and the first 30 metres. I am pretty satisfied with my first win of the season, SB (season’s best), but I know I still have a couple of things to work on. It was a good race, but the rain was a little complication.
“Despite this, I was pretty close to the 10-second barrier, so I have to analyse it and get back to work.
“Now, I am heading to Paris, and that will be great – it should be very warm and sunny, what I really like. Definitely, I am looking forward to do a couple of more races.”
In the men’s 400m, former Olympic and world champion Kirani James of Grenada took charge from the outside, but he was closely followed by South Africa’s Zakithi Nene, who matched him stride-for-stride over the opening 200 metres.
Christopher Taylor of Jamaica then caught up with the pair, and looked to have taken the lead around the 250-metre mark.
But then Nene showed a good turn of speed to enter the home straight in front, and it seemed as if the 22-year-old would produce a major upset.
James, though, produced a second surge, and Nene starting pulling up over the last 50 metres, while Isaac Makwala of Botswana also moved forward on the outside.
However, James put in a few long strides in the closing stages to take the honours in 44.78, followed by Makwala in 45.45, with Taylor finishing third with 45.52.
Despite Nene fading to fourth position in 45.73, the 24-year-old can be pleased with his performance, as he can certainly go much quicker – with his personal best standing at 44.92, which he ran just a few weeks ago in Poland.
Sokwakhana Zazini had a tough lane draw in the men’s 400m hurdles and battled to get going. The former world junior champion was right up against the advertising boards in lane eight, and never quite got into full stride as he was immediately put under pressure by the tall Brazilian Alison dos Santos, who motored into the lead from lane seven.
The 22-year-old Zazini had to be satisfied with seventh spot in a disappointing time of 50.17, which was exactly a second behind his season’s best of 49.17 – while his personal best is 48.73.
Dos Santos kept going right to the end to win in a superb time of 47.26, which was just shy of his world lead this year of 47.23.
In the long jump, Ruswahl Samaai continued his progress ahead of the Commonwealth Games and world championships by finishing fifth, with his best effort being 7.68m, which was just short of his season’s best of 7.73m. Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou won the event with a best jump of 8.10m.