Wayde van Niekerk during heat 4 of 7 Mens 200mon the 4th day of the 4th day of the 20th Africa Senior Athletics Championship at Kingspark Athletics Stadium, Durban, South Africa, on 22 June 2016
DURBAN - Middle-distance runners Caster Semenya and Jacob Rozani were the star performers on Friday, as the SA team scooped another six medals on day three of the CAA African Senior Championships in Durban.
With two days of competition left, the national squad had earned a total of 18 medals, including nine gold, five silver and four bronze.
Semenya was in superb form in the Women’s 1 500m final, storming to victory in 4:01.99, narrowly missing out on Zola Budd’s 32-year-old SA record of 4:01.81.
She was more than six seconds quicker than her previous Personal Best, and well under the Olympic qualifying standard of 4:07.00.
Earlier in the season, she had also achieved the required criteria in the 400m and 800m events, giving herself multiple options for her schedule at the Rio Games.
"I’m very happy with the time. I’ve been dreaming of that time since I was 18," Semenya said.
"Now I’ve achieved it, it’s time to go relax and focus on the future."
Rozani, meanwhile, delivered the race of his life, taking second place behind Olympic silver medallist Nijel Amos of Botswana in the Men’s 800m final.
He clocked 1:45.38, crossing the line 0.27 off the pace of Amos, who was forced to fight to the line to hold off the gutsy South African.
His effort was enough to go well inside the 1:46.00 Olympic qualifying standard, joining compatriots Andre Olivier and Rynardt van Rensburg, who went under the required mark last year.
"It means a lot to me. I’ve been working for this since I started running in 2009," Rozani said.
Van Rensburg earned the bronze medal in 1:46.15.
The SA Men’s 4x100m team – Emile Erasmus, Gift Leotlela, Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine, won gold in 38.84, and the national women’s squad – Carina Horn, Alyssa Conley, Tebogo Mamathu and Tamzin Thomas – won the Women’s 4x100m race in 43.66.
Keagan Fourie earned the silver medal in the Men’s High Jump with a best height of 2.18m, while Kenyan Mathew Sawe cleared 2.21m for gold.
In the Men’s 400m Hurdles final, former World Championships bronze medallist LJ van Zyl was handed a shock defeat, settling for fourth position in 49.46 after struggling to maintain his momentum over the last hurdle.
Kenyan Boniface Mucheru, a World Championships finalist, won the race in 49.20.