South Africa’s Caster Semenya added another achievement to her ever-growing list of accolades with a new SA record in the women’s 1000m in a time of two minutes 35.43 seconds, at the Athletix Grand Prix Series, in Pretoria, on Thursday.
Though pacemaker Wenda Nel, whose regular event is the 400m hurdles, went out too fast – Semenya was still able to power away from the field on the final lap and break the previous record of 2:37.20 set by Ilze Wicksell way back in 1983. Ugandans Halimah Nakaayi took second in 2:37.55 with Winnie Nanyondo third in 2:37.98.
“It was a tough race. The pacemaker went too quickly so I was a little disappointed,” said Semenya afterwards.
“The main job of a pacemaker is to guide me, not kill me. But at the end of the day I got a new national record so I couldn’t ask for more. It’s fantastic.”
Once Nel moved out, it was all Semenya as she looked comfortable while leading the field by at least 30 metres. In the last 200m, Semenya still maintained her powerful stride as she crossed the line first to take an impressive victory.
In the headline race of the event, SA’s Anaso Jobodwana beat 100m world champion Justin Gatlin of America in the men’s 150m to claim the biggest scalp of his career in a time of 15.08. Jobdodwana had a good start to keep pace with Gatlin, but in the final 50m he moved clear to create a clear margin of victory.
Gatlin, in fact, faded to fourth in the dip for the line. Roscoe Engel took second in 15.17, with Luxolo Adams third in 15.18. Gatlin settled for 15.23.
“I was just trying to keep up with Justin for the first 50m. I kept telling myself I had to execute the first 50m. I’m very happy,” said Jobodwana.
“This year I want to do more 200s and chip away at my personal best and run the African record. Going to my first Commonwealth Games I want to get a gold medal in the 200. But my goal is just to prove myself on the international circuit again this year.”
Akani Simbine sprinted away from the field to take a comfortable victory in the men’s 100m as he crossed the line in 10.05. Clarence Munya was a distant second in 10.22, with Simon Magakwe third in 10.22.
“It was a good opener for me, I was just trying to finish strong and healthy (without injury),” said Simbine.
“The competition was good, having Simon back adds another dynamic to the race and I’m pretty excited to have him back.”