South African middle-distance star Caster Semenya outclassed a quality domestic field, racing to a new personal best in the women’s 3000m race at the second leg of the ASA Athletics Grand Prix Series in Cape Town, South Africa on Wednesday 23 March 2022.
Semenya opened a big gap on the last three laps to win in 8:54.97, chopping nearly 10 seconds off her 3000m career best of 9:04.20 which she set in Potchefstroom last year.
The three-time Olympic and World 800m champion, still suspended by World Athletics from racing over her best distances unless she takes hormone suppressants, finished well ahead of runner-up Aynslee van Graan (9:09.63) and training partner Glenrose Xaba, who also set a personal best (9:12.51).
“It is always great to see your people when you come to the track show appreciation and I had to reward them with an impressive performance,” said Semenya after the race.
“I will return for the national championships next month and I will run the 5000m and am prepared for any weather conditions on the day. If the World Championships qualification happens, it will be great and running a sub-9 in the 3000m shows that I can do it in the 5000m.”
“My goal is to show up for my people and I love athletics. It will be great if I qualify for the World Championships, but currently the goal is qualifying for the African Championships. Caster Semenya – women’s 3000m winner (8:54.97)
“There is no challenge for me in the 5000m (here), so I challenge myself to do better. It was a challenge at first and I got used to it. My results always make me happy and I cannot go according to other people’s expectations,” she added.
With the strong wind at the Green Point Athletics Stadium affecting other disciplines, middle-distance runners delivered the standout performances at the ASA Athletics Grand Prix – a World Athletics Continental Tour Challenger meeting.
National 800m champion Tshepo Tshite displayed fine form to win the men’s 1500m race in 3:36.09, holding off pre-race favourite Ryan Mphahlele (3:36.86) in one of the best contests of the night. Tumelo Machaba took third position (3:40.71).
Rising 800m star Prudence Sekgodiso also won a cracking race in the women’s 1500m event. She crossed the line in 4:20.03, with 18-year-old SA champion Danielle Verster finishing second in 4:21.21 and Simonay Weitsz grabbing third in 4:28.03.
“The focus was not about beating Ryan Mphahlele and I knew I would run under 3:40. I wanted a fast race, and I was not worried about Ryan. I didn’t want to chase him and I knew that I would finish faster. I surprised myself with the winning time and I thought I would run 3:38. I was happy to see my coach celebrating the win.”Tshepo Tshite: men’s 1500m winner (3:36:09)
Among the other highlights, former world U20 champion Sokwakhana Zazini showed a glimpse of return to form to take the men’s 400m hurdles race in 49.66, ahead of Lindokuhle Gora (50.62).
Another former world junior champion, Zeney van der Walt, won the women’s 400m hurdles in 56.01 ahead of former Youth Olympics gold medallist Gezelle Magerman (57.68).
In the men’s discus throw, Victor Hogan produced a 60.81m effort to secure victory, with Werner Visser (54.66m) settling for second position.
The sprint races were affected by the conditions, with teenager Benjamin Richardson winning the men’s 200m race in 21.08 seconds, into a -3.3m/s headwind, and Sekese Mphontsheng winning the women’s 200m race in 24.31, into a -4.2m/s wind.
“It’s been another successful leg of the ASA Athletics Grand Prix Series led by great displays of competition by each athlete that has taken part,” said James Moloi, the President of Athletics South Africa.
“We congratulate every podium finisher led by the gold medallists. We also thank all participants, their coaches and back up staff for making the event in Cape Town the success it was.”