Akani Simbine and Caster Semenya opened their international campaigns in fine style in Doha, Qatar on Friday (last night), earning convincing victories at the first leg of the IAAF Diamond League series.
Simbine secured his maiden Diamond League win against a quality Men’s 100m line-up, charging across the line in 9.99 seconds.
Former world record holder Asafa Powellfinished second in 10.08, while pre-race favourites Justin Gatlin of the United States and Andre de Grasse of Canada, both missed the podium.
Semenya was also in good form, proving she would again be the athlete to beat in her specialist 800m event this year.
The Olympic champion and national record holder, took control of the race on the final bend and drew ahead to win in 1:56.61, breaking the meeting record and shattering her Season’s Best by more than four seconds.
Margaret Wambui of Kenya took second position in 1:57.03.
In the Men’s 400m Hurdles, LJ van Zyl overcame a poor lane draw to grab third spot in 49.49, doing well to pace himself from lane eight.
Abderrahaman Samba of Qatar won convincingly in 48.44, while Cornel Fredericks, the only other SA athlete competing in Doha, took fifth place in the one-lap race over the barriers in 49.99.
“Simbine’s performance signifies the hard and quality work that his coach has been doing behind the scenes in preparation for the international season.
“We also strongly believe that Caster’s steady performance is aimedat breaking the long standing 800m world record this year. So, we wish all the coaches, athletes and their support teams a very successful season ahead.
“Let their success be used as a measurement of work done thus far and work that still needs to be done in order to secure podium position at the London 2017 IAAF World Championships,” said Aleck Skhosana, the President of Athletics South Africa.
The second of 14 legs of the annual IAAF Diamond League series will be held in Shanghai, China on May 13.
Athletics South Africa