Records tumbled and spectacular performances were delivered across the board during a memorable weekend for South African athletics.
We take a look at some of the highlights produced by local stars on the European track and field circuit.
With a legal battle bubbling off the track, Semenya made a statement with a superb gun-to-tape victory in the 800m race at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris, France on Saturday night. After charging through the bell in 56.12 seconds, she coasted home for a comfortable victory in 1:54.25. Semenya smashed her previous national record of 1:55.16 by nearly a full second and rocketed to fourth place in the all-time world rankings in the two-lap event.
Gaining momentum after making an impressive return from injury last year, Steenkamp made further progress with another breakthrough effort at the Resisprint meeting in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland on Sunday. After clocking a wind-aided 12.70 performance in the 100m hurdles heats, she returned to the track to win the final in 12.81, ripping 0.10 off the SA record she had set in Prague a few weeks earlier as she continued to narrow the gap on the global elite.
After taking a more cautious approach to his season, in an attempt to peak at major championships later in the 2018 campaign, Simbine has been rewarded by finding top form on the international circuit. Having dipped under 10 seconds for the first time this year at a meeting in Madrid, Spain the week before, he went even quicker at the Paris Diamond League, finishing fourth in a tight men’s 100m race in a season’s best of 9.94.
Having produced tremendous consistency in Europe in recent weeks, Erasmus enjoyed a breakthrough of his own in La Chaux-de-Fonds. The burly sprinter narrowly missed the 10-second barrier in the 100m event, clocking a personal best of 10.01 in the heats, and he went on to win the final in another impressive time of 10.02. Erasmus also closed out the meeting with a personal best of 20.48 in the 200m dash.
Though they were forced to take a back seat to Cuban prodigy Juan Miguel Echevarria, who produced a massive 8.68m leap to secure victory, three South African athletes flaunted the nation’s depth in the men’s long jump event at a meeting in Bad Langensalza, Germany on Saturday. National record holder Luvo Manyonga leaped 8.42m to take second place, with Ruswahl Samaai and Zarck Visser both landing at 8.40m to finish third and fourth respectively.