Experienced campaigners Simon Magakwe and Caster Semenya delivered in spectacular fashion on Thursday, charging to memorable victories, while Tebogo Mamatu enjoyed a breakthrough performance at the Sizwe Medical Fund & 3SixtyLife ASA Senior Track and Field Championships in Germiston.
While the first day of action started out cold and wet, it ended with some explosive performances as the nation’s elite stars battled it out for national titles.
Having entered the women’s 1 500m and 5 000m events, Semenya coasted through the metric mile heats (qualifying for Saturday’s final) before outclassing the country’s top long-distance specialists to win the gold medal over 12-and-a-half laps.
The middle-distance specialist sat back in the early stages of the 5 000m final before taking control on the fourth lap, and though Dom Scott-Efurd and Kesa Molotsane clung to her for most of the race, Semenya tore clear on the final lap to win comfortably in 16:05.97.
Scott-Efurd finished second in 16:13.71 and Molotsane
Producing a historic effort, Magakwe held off challenges from his younger compatriots to win his eighth national title in the 100m sprint (and his 10th overall).
The 32-year-old sprinter dipped on the line in 10.05, clocking the fastest time in the country this year after twice running 10.06 earlier in the season.
Again proving his potential, 20-year-old Thando Dlodlo finished second in 10.15, and Chederick van Wyk was third in 10.27.
“I had bad starts in the heats and semifinals, but I managed to fix a few things with my coach (Paul Gorries) before the final. I came here to defend my title, and this is number eight, so it feels good.”Simon Magakwe
After national record holder Carina Horn withdrew from the heats, Mamatu lived up to her tag as the firm favourite in the women’s 100m final by securing her maiden title in the sport’s flagship event.
Crossing the line in 11.45, she held off a challenge from junior prospect Rose Xeyi who earned the silver medal in 11.61.
“I’m really happy. I’ve never won this title before, so this is great. I just told myself to keep pushing to the end.”Tebogo Mamatu