National record holder Akani Simbine stole the show on Friday, scorching to victory in a highly competitive men’s 100m final on the opening day of the SA Senior Championships in Potchefstroom.
Turning out in front of a packed stadium in cold conditions, Simbine took gold in 9.95 seconds to reclaim the title he won in 2015.
“I’m pretty happy with the time, but I came here to get back the title I lost (to Henricho Bruintjies) last year, so I’m very happy to reclaim my title,” said Simbine, who was set to compete in the 200m event on Saturday.
“So for me, job one is done, and tomorrow is the next step.”
While World Championships 200m bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana was scratched from the race due to cramps, Simbine faced a world-class line-up.
World 400m record holder Wayde van Niekerk grabbed second spot in 10.04, and 21-year-old prospect Thando Roto was credited with the same time in third place.
In the women’s 100m final, Carina Horn withdrew ahead of the race after clocking 11.10 in the semifinals, and Alyssa Conley retained her title in 11.41.
Earlier, in perhaps the best performance of the day outside the sprint events, Olympic silver medallist Sunette Viljoen launched a 63.49m season’s best to win her 12th national title in the women’s javelin throw.
Viljoen launched the implement more than 10m further than her nearest competitor.
“It’s difficult to try and lift yourself when you’re throwing further than the others in the competition, but I was consistent with my throws today, so I’m very happy,” Viljoen said.
Le Roux Hamman stunned seven-time champion LJ van Zyl to win the men’s 400m hurdles final in 49.35 seconds.
Van Zyl held on to grab the silver medal in 49.52, with Constant Pretorius also dipping under 50 seconds, taking bronze in 49.83.
Olympic gold medallist Caster Semenya coasted through the 400m heats, crossing the line in 54.05, as well as the 800m heats, covering the two-lap distance in 2:08.06, to book her place in the finals of both events on Saturday.