GOLD COAST – Picking the highlight of the SA athletics performances at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games is indeed tricky, but Caster Semenya’s gold in the women’s 800m and 1500m must be a top contender.
There’s little doubt the 27-year-old is the most irresistible force in world athletics. Her only opposition, seemingly, is the clock and in winning her two gold medals, Semenya broke the Games record in both. She wasn’t pushed to the line in either, and in fact, the sight of her looking to the stands, to where her coach was sitting, for a couple of seconds while she was running her 800m heat, said it all. She’s an athlete at the top of her game. All that’s left now is for her to chase down the existing world records.
Akani Simbine won the 100m gold medal, pulling countryman Henricho Bruintjies for a famous South African 1-2, with Jamaica’s Yohan Blake in third. In finishing fifth in the Rio Olympics, Simbine had clocked 9.94; on the Gold Coast he claimed gold in 10.03, with Bruintjies taking silver in 10.17 and Blake the bronze in 10.19. He then re-appeared as the anchor in the 4x100m men’s relay and took South Africa from out of the medals to a silver, going past Blake in the process.
In the men’s long jump, Luvo Manyonga once again soared high. A leap of 8.37m had given him the silver medal at the Rio Olympics, but the 27-year-old is starting to make distances like that appear routine.
Manyonga took the lead in the final with a jump of 8.35m, but just as an exclamation mark he produced an 8.41m on his sixth and final jump. That became an official Games record and with Ruswahl Samaai (8.22m) taking the bronze, it meant two South African brothers in arms celebrating in front of the crowd.