Middle-distance star Caster Semenya outclassed a quality domestic field on Wednesday night, racing to a new personal best in the women's 3 000m race at the second leg of the ASA Athletics Grand Prix Series in Cape Town.
Semenya opened a big gap on the last three laps to win in 8:54.97, chopping nearly 10 seconds off her 3 000m career best of 9:04.20 which she set in Potchefstroom last year.
The three-time 800m Olympic and World Athletics 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).
With the strong wind at Green Point Stadium affecting other disciplines, middle-distance runners delivered the standout performances at the ASA Athletics Grand Prix meeting.
National 800m champion Tshepo Tshite displayed fine form to win the men's 1 500m 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 800m 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.
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. 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,” said James Moloi, the President of Athletics South Africa.