ASABA – South Africa lived up to expectations at the African Senior Athletics Championships in the Delta State of Asaba this week.
It was raining medals for Mzansi at the Stephen Keshi Stadium as the big-name stars came to the party at the hot and bumpy track in front of sold-out crowds.
After three days at the most controversial championships in the west African country, the athletes were sitting pretty at the top of the medal count with 14 medals – five of them gold.
Mzansi superstar Caster “Cobra” Semenya clinched gold in the women’s 400m, clocking in at 49.66s to break an 18-year national record.
Ruswahl Samaai defended his title when he jumped his way into the highest place on the podium with an impressive leap of 8.45m, and achieved a rare victory over his compatriot Luvo Manyonga, who fell two centimetres short with 8.43m.
It was Samaai’s first victory over world champion and Olympic silver medallist Manyonga in two years – he last beat Manyonga in Durban at the African champs.
“My aim is not to beat Luvo, but to improve and challenge myself. Yeah, I’m a back-to-back African champ,” Said Samaai
On her part, Manyonga said he would not give up on his quest to become an African champion.
“I’m not a machine, I’m only human. This defeat is a blessing in disguise as it will help me reflect and go back to the drawing board,” he said.
An elated Semenya enthused: “It has always been a dream to go below 50 seconds, but it’s all about having fun.”
Akani Simbine clinched his first African title in the men’s 100m when he ran 10.25s to become the fastest man on the continent.
Former African champion Simon Magakwe settled for bronze with 10.35s, and Mzansi took two places on the podium in the men’s 100m final.
Gold and silver medalists will represent Africa at the Continental Cup in Ostrava, Czech Republic, next month.
The 4x100m relay team of Magakwe, Simbine, Henricho Bruitjies and Emile Erasmus clinched gold in 44.25s, while Thato Phora added a silver in the men’s 400m and Cornel Fredericks took silver in the men’s 400m hurdles.
In discus throw, Victor Hogan grabbed a gold medal with a huge throw of 60.06m to finish ahead of his countryman Werner Visser (58.82m) in a one-two podium finish with Rikenette Steenkamp taking silver in the women’s 100m hurdles with a time of 13.18s.