In-form 400m hurdler Cornel Fredericks, right, spearheaded the South African contingent in Zurich, winning his event in the first leg of the Diamond League series final. EPA/ENNIO LEANZA

Johannesburg – In-form 400m hurdler Cornel Fredericks spearheaded the South African contingent in Zurich on Thursday night, winning his specialist event in the first leg of the Diamond League series final.

The SA champion burst clear in the sprint for the line to bag a fine victory in a season's best 48.25 seconds.

He crossed the line 0.06 ahead of American Michael Tinsley, to add his first win in the top-flight global league to his recent Commonwealth Games and African Championships titles.

Fredericks cemented his place among the world's elite in his discipline, falling just 0.11 short of his career record set at the 2011 national championships in Durban.

In a spectacular triple jump competition, fellow South African Khotso Mokoena, who also won Commonwealth and continental gold this season, was fourth with a second-round leap of 16.82m.

Benjamin Compaore of France looked set to bag the win after producing a superb 17.45m leap, but Olympic champion Christian Taylor of the United States went six centimetres further with his final attempt.

Wayde van Niekerk was sixth in the men's 400m sprint in 45.46, more than a second outside his own SA record, and well behind LaShawn Merritt of the United States who secured victory in 44.36.

Middle-distance runner Andre Olivier faded in the closing stages, after going out with the fast early pace, to end ninth in the 800m race in 1:45.11.

Nijel Amos of Botswana, who is based in Potchefstroom with Olivier, shifted gears down the finishing straight to win the two-lap event in 1:43.77, with Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti (1:43.96) outsprinting Kenyan world record holder David Rudisha (1:43.99) for second place.

Short-sprint specialist Simon Magakwe, the only other South African competing in Zurich, finished seventh in the men's 100m B race in 10.40.

Fredericks, meanwhile, took third place in the final Diamond League standings in his event with 12 points.

Tinsley, the Olympic silver medallist, won the season race with 21 points and Javier Culson of Puerto Rico took second position with 17.

Van Niekerk was fifth in his discipline, with two points, and Olivier secured sixth place in the 800m table with three points, as Amos (14) bagged the overall crown ahead of Rudisha (10).

The second leg of the Diamond League series final will be held in Brussels next week. – Sapa