Versatile athlete Caster Semenya stunned a quality field of one-lap specialists in Sasolburg on Tuesday night, storming to victory in the women’s 300m sprint at the Sasol-NWU International athletics meeting.
Semenya crossed the line in 37.22 seconds, missing Heide Quinn’s 17-year-old national record by 0.20 over the rarely run distance.
She edged out former 400m world champion Amantle Montsho of Botswana in a hard-fought battle down the home straight to win by 0.22, while World Championships 400m hurdles finalist Wenda Nel ended third in 37.59.
“She was psyched up with Amantle here and Wenda, so I thought she would run around 38 seconds or just under, but she’s a fighter and a racer,” said Semenya’s coach Jean Verster.
The Olympic 800m champion was equally pleased with her performance ahead of the SA Senior Championships in Potchefstroom next month, where she was still considering the possibility of defending her unprecedented 400m, 800m and 1 500m treble.
“It’s a privilege for me going up against the best and being able to win,” Semenya said.
“It means a lot for me and it shows my training is under control, so we just need to maintain what we’ve been doing and try to do better next time.”
In the men’s 400m hurdles, SA record holder LJ van Zyl was unable to produce much of a challenge as Abdurrahman Samba of Qatar charged to a 2017 world lead of 48.31.
Van Zyl trailed home in 50.48, settling for fourth position.
National 100m and 200m champion Alyssa Conley won the women’s sprint double, first taking the short dash in 11.45 before charging to victory in the half-lap event in 23.16.
In the men’s 100m sprint, SA champion Henricho Bruintjies was again unable to find momentum in the early stages of the season, settling for second place in 10.33.
Mohammed Abdullah Abkar of Suadi Arabia, a World Indoor Championships 60m semifinalist, won the race in 10.28.
Earlier, 20-year-old Letitia Janse van Vuuren launched a 63.82m heave to shatter her own national hammer throw record of 61.06m set in Pretoria last month.
She remained well short of the B-standard qualifying mark of 71.00m, however, for the World Championships in London in August.