Anaso Jobodwana edged out World 100m Champion Justin Gatlin in the men’s 150m, and Caster Semenya smashed the South African 1000m record at the second Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix Series Meeting held at Tuks Athletics Stadium in Tshwane on Thursday.
Jobodwana started celebrating 20 metres before the line, knowing that he had claimed one of the biggest victories of his career in a time of 15.08 secs ahead of Roscoe Engel (15.17) and Luxolo Adams (15.18).
Justin Gatlin had to settle for fourth place in 15.23, but that did not stop the American from spending time with the crowd and posing for endless pictures.
“It’s all about the fans,” said Gatlin. “They are the reason why we race”.
Jobodwana, who had just become a father the day before, said: “Before the race I was just thinking about the last two years (he had struggled with injuries), my wife in America and my son being born yesterday. All that gave me the power to execute and run my race. I am very happy, as I am almost back to where I was.”
Gatlin was gracious in defeat, praising Jobodwana.
“He ran a great race and it is good to see him running so well again,” said Gatlin. “Next time I hope to come through earlier, I did feel a bit jetlagged. So my coach told me to focus on my first 100m and see how I best finish the last 50m. I still felt I would win with 30m to go, but the legs came off.
“I usually open in May, so this was a bit early for me. But overall I am happy.”
The men’s 150m was the final race of an evening that saw spectacular performances coming in quick succession.
Semenya knocks off SA record.
Caster Semenya broke the 35-year-old record of Ilse De Kock Wicksell in the women’s 1000m, crossing the line in 2:35.43. Wicksel’s record was 2:37.0, run in 1983.
Semenya was paced by 400m hurdler, Wenda Nel, who took the field through the 600m mark in 93 secs, spot on for the record attempt.
“That was a good race for me. I know where I am in my training now and I am on track for what I want to achieve,” She said after the race. Semenya was congratulated by the former SA Record Holder, Ilse de Kock Wicksell.
Kenya’s 2015 World champion Nicholas Bett won the men’s 400m hurdles breaking 49 seconds for the second time this year, to win in 48.88 ahead of Le Roux Hamman (49.22) and LJ Van Zyl (49.45) finishing in third.
Ruswahl Samaai ran away with the men’s Long Jump victory with a best efforts of 8.24m.
Botswana’s Isaac Makwala falls short of the targeted sub-31 seconds run , but still won the men’s 300m in a fast 31.77 secs ahead of South Africans Thapelo Phora (32.57) and Ofentse Mogawane (32.68).
Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei showed just why he is the world 10000m silver medalist, running a controlled 3000m race to win the men’s 3000m in 7:49.48.
Cheptegei sat behind pacemaker Elroy Gelant until he pulled off after 2000m. He then raced on his own dragging young Ryan Mphahlele to a sub 8-minute time, with the South African clocking 7:59.77 in second place. Another Ugandan, Ronald Musagala rounded off the podium in third place.
Akani Simbine lived up to his billing as the fastest man in South Africa, opening his 2018 season with a 10.05 secs win.
“I am happy with the win. I made sure that I focused on the first 60m and I executed that well. It is important to me to do that. Everything is going well in my group and I’m looking forward to the season.”
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