Olympic champion Caster Semenya produced another superb front-running effort on Thursday night to win the overall season title in the women’s 800m event, with a convincing victory at the Diamond League series final in Zurich.
Taking control in the early stages, Semenya held on to win in 1:56.44, comfortably clear of Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, who was 0.32 off the pace. Semenya became the second SA athlete to win the season-long Diamond League race in any discipline, after Khotso Mokoena bagged the men’s long jump title in 2014, and in doing so she pocketed R1.3 million in prize money in the top-flight campaign, including $40 000 (R590 000) for the overall series victory.
The 25-year-old star enjoyed a spectacular season, becoming the first athlete to win the 400m, 800m and 1 500m treble at the annual SA Senior Championships in Stellenbosch in April.
She went on to win the Diamond League two-lap races in Doha, Rabat, Rome and Monaco before making history as the first black South African woman to win an Olympic title in Rio last month.
Akani Simbine, meanwhile, dipped on the line for second place in the men’s 100m dash in Zurich, in 9.99, covering the sprint distance 0.05 behind Jamaican winner Asafa Poswell. Compatriot LJ van Zyl was third in the men’s 400m hurdles in 48.80, edged out by American Kerron Clement (48.72) and Javier Culson of Puerto Rico (48.79). Simbine and Van Zyl both climbed to third position in the final Diamond League standings in their events.
Wenda Nel finished fourth in the women’s 400m hurdles race, crossing the line in 55.15, though the contest did not form part of the official season race.
The last official battle in Nel’s best discipline would be held at the second of two Diamond League finals in Brussels next week.