Report26 Jun 2016

Van Niekerk takes 200m title, two more golds for Semenya as African Championships conclude


Wayde van Niekerk winning the African 200m title in Durban (© Roger Sedres)

Caster Semenya added two more gold medals to her tally, carrying South Africa to the top of the standings on the fifth and final day of the African Championships in Durban on Sunday (26).

Semenya, who had already earned gold in the 1500m earlier in the week, coasted to victory in the women's 800m in 1:58.20, with the rest of the field finishing well off the pace as Malika Akkaoui took second in 2:00.24.

Semenya returned to the track less than an hour later and anchored the South African 4x400m relay squad to an impressive victory in 3:28.49, joining Wenda Nel, Justine Palframan and Jeanelle Griesel in setting a national record.

"I'm happy with my times. My rhythm is good," Semenya said. "I just need to go back, rest a bit and see if we can maintain it."

Meanwhile, the men's 4x400m relay team from Botswana won gold, as expected after dominating the individual one-lap race, in 3:02.20.

Versatile sprinter Wayde van Niekerk charged to victory in the men's 200m in 20.02, crossing the line well clear of Gambia's Adama Jammeh, who finished second in 20.45.

"I need to recover now and get my body back to good shape, but I'm glad I got across the line healthy, and for the opportunity I got today," Van Niekerk said.

In the women's 200m, Marie Josee Ta Lou dipped on the line in 22.81 to hold off South African champion Alyssa Conley by 0.03.

In the men's 5000m, Douglas Kipserem of Kenya outsprinted in-form South African record-holder Elroy Gelant to earn the gold in 13:13.35, with the local man holding on for second place in 13:15.13 in a hard-fought contest. Mangata Ndiwa of Kenya was third in 13:16.85.

Norah Jeruto won the women's 3000m steeplechase in 9:25.07, holding off fellow Kenyan Agnes Chesang to win by just over two seconds.

Earlier, in the morning session on Sunday, 37-year-old Grace Wanjiru obliterated the continental record in the women's 20km race walk.

Wanjiru covered the distance in 1:30:43, chopping nearly four minutes off her own African mark set at the 2010 African Championships in Nairobi.

Ethiopian athlete Yehualeye Mitiku took second place in a national record of 1:31:58, also dipping under the previous continental record and setting an African U20 record.

In the men's event, Kenya's Samuel Gathimba won comfortably, crossing the line in 1:19:24. He was just 22 seconds outside the 19-year-old African record set by Hatem Ghoula of Tunisia.

Both race walks formed part of the IAAF Race Walking Challenge.

In other events, Morocco's Fouad Kaam won the men's 1500m in 3:39.49 and Phil-Mar Janse van Rensburg launched a 76.04m effort to get the gold medal in the men's javelin.

World Championships finalist Wenda Nel won the women's 400m hurdles in 54.86 to retain her title from two years ago while Lissa Labiche of Seychelles secured victory the women's high jump, clearing 1.85m, to regain her title from 2012. Nadia Eke of Ghana produced a leap of 13.42m, with the benefit of a 2.8m/s tailwind, to lift the women's triple jump crown.

South Africa finished top of the table for the second straight edition of the biennial continental championships with 33 medals: 16 gold, nine silver and eight bronze. Kenya ended the championships in second place with 24 medals: eight gold, eight silver and eight bronze.

Wesley Botton for the IAAF