Rio Olympics long jump silver medallist Luvo Manyonga broke the African record for the second time this season on the second and final day of the 2017 ASA Senior Track & Field and Combined Events Championships in Potchefstroom on Saturday 22 April.
Manyonga bettered his own continental mark by three centimetres, launching a massive 8.65m leap to earn the gold medal through his very first attempt, which was also his last as he picked up a niggle in his hamstring.
“I’m pleased with the gold medal, but the focus is not on the SA Championships. The focus is on the World Championships later this year,” said Manyonga, who earned his first national senior title inside a packed Kenneth McArthur Athletics Stadium on Saturday evening.
Ruswahl Samaai produced a personal best of 8.49m to clinch the second place.
Elsewhere, the World 400m record-holder Wayde van Niekerk turned the tables on his good friend Akani Simbine, who had beaten him to the 100m gold medal on the opening day on Friday to claim the national 200m title.
Van Niekerk, the Rio 2016 Olympic Games 400m champion, won the 200m final in 19.90 seconds, crossing the line 0.25 ahead of Simbine.
“It’s a long season so I didn’t want to get too far ahead of myself,” said Van Niekerk, who eased off before the finishing line and missed Anaso Jobodwana’s national record by 0.03.
“We all know the goals now are the World Championships and the European season, so we’re just trying to look after ourselves and maintain our bodies so we can represent South Africa well on the international circuit.”
Semenya did the double
Caster Semenya successfully defended her SA 400m and 800m titles, winning both finals less than two hours apart.
After taking the 400m in 51.60, she drew clear of a determined 21 year-old Gena Lofstrand to win the 800m title in 2:01.03.
Lofstrand, who stayed with the Olympic champion until the final bend, took second position in 2:03.32, and Anuscha Nice, who also produced a brave effort by holding on to end up third in 2:05.88.
“I’m quite happy with where I am now,” Semenya said. “I’m not worried about the international season at this stage. I’m just focussed on my training.”
Sprinter Alyssa Conley also defended two titles, winning the 200m final in 22.94 to add to the 100m crown she had lifted on Friday.
Orazio Cremona delivered the performance of his career, smashing his personal best by 49 centimetres to win the Men’s Shot Put with a heave of 21.12m, with Jaco Engelbrecht also securing a PB of 20.63 for the silver medal.
In the Women’s 100m Hurdles, Rikenette Steenkamp narrowly missed out on breaking the 13-second barrier by setting a PB of 13.02, and Tiaan Smit stunned defending champion Antonio Alkana to win the Men’s High Hurdles in 13.42.
Ischke Senekal won the Women’s Discus Throw with a best attempt of 51.92m, after taking the Shot Put gold the day before, and 43-year-old Chris Harmse closed out the annual championships with an astounding 22nd successive national Hammer Throw title with a 70.53m heave.