Caster Semenya and Luvo Manyonga were the standout performers, leading a large group of South African athletes by successfully defending their titles at the first of two finals in the IAAF Diamond League series in Zurich, Switzerland on Thursday evening.
Semenya, who lifted the Diamond League 800m trophy in 2016 and 2017, added a third straight series victory with a gun-to-tape win in the women’s two-lap contest.
She completed the race unchallenged in 1:55.27, and Ajee Wilson of the United States, who finished second in 1:57.86, was the only other athlete to run under 1:58.00.
“It was just fantastic. It has been a long month of racing for me now, and I feel it on my body,” Semenya said.
“I like to run on my own from the first metres without any pacemaker. I am consistent at this level.”
Meanwhile, locked in a hard-fought tussle with countryman Ruswahl Samaai, world champion Manyonga catapulted himself 8.36 metres with his final attempt to clinch a narrow victory in the men’s long jump.
Samaai took second place with his fourth-round leap of 8.32m.
“I am quite happy. My win shows that I am still in good shape,” Manyonga said.
In other events, Cornel Fredericks put up a fight in the men’s 400m hurdles final, taking fifth place in 49.96 seconds in a race won by Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands in 48.08.
Among the South African sprinters, Carina Horn settled for seventh position in the women’s 100m battle in 11.54, Luxolo Adams was seventh in the men’s 200m race in 20.51 and Pieter Conradie ended seventh in the men’s 400m contest in 47.37.
Wenda Nel finished eighth in the women’s 400m hurdles in 57.23.
Akani Simbine was scheduled to compete in the series finale in Brussels on Friday night, with the Commonwealth Games and African champion entering the blocks in the men’s 100m race.