Akani Simbine winning the 100m in Pretoria (Roger Sedres) © Copyright
Report Pretoria, South Africa

Seven early season world leads set in Pretoria

Seven early season world leads were set at the Liquid Telecom Athletic Grand Prix in Pretoria on Thursday (8).

Nicholas Bett of Kenya, the 2015 world champion, won the 400m hurdles in 48.88, well clear of Le Roux Hamman who clocked 49.22, a lifetime best. Wenda Nel took the women's event in 55.31, winning by nearly a second over Zeney Van Der Walt.

Nel returned to the track as a pacesetter in the 1000m, helping to lead Caster Semenya to a 2:35.43 national record in her debut over the distance. The two-time Olympic 800m champion eclipsed Ilse De Kock Wicksel's 2:37.0 record which had stood for 35 years.

"That was a good race for me," Semenya said. "I know where I am in my training now and I am on track for what I want to achieve."

Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda, the 2017 world 10,000m bronze medallist, dominated the 3000m, pulling away from the field after the 2000m mark to win by more than 10 seconds in 7:49.48.

Less than a week after a sixth place finish at the IAAF World Indoor Championships, Ruswahl Samaai won the long jump with an 8.24m leap to win by nearly half a metre.

Other world leads came courtesy of South African Antonio Alkana who won the 110m hurdles in 13.61 and Botswana's Isaac Makwala, who prevailed in the rarely-run 300m in 31.77.

Akani Simbine dominated the 100m in his 2018 debut, winning in 10.05 from Clarence Munyai and Simon Magakwe, who both clocked 10.22.

“I am happy with the win," said Simbine, the fifth place finisher at the 2016 Olympic games and the 2017 World Championships. "I made sure that I focused on the first 60 metres and I executed that well. It is important to me to do that. Everything is going well in my group and I’m looking forward to the season.”

The second of the three-meeting series was capped by Anaso Jobodwana's victory in the 150m in 15.08 over compatriot Roscoe Engel. The victory for the 25-year-old came just one day after becoming a father.

“Before the race I was just thinking about the last two years, my wife in America and my son being born yesterday," said Jobodwana, who has been struggling with injury since taking 200m bronze at the 2015 World Championships. "All that gave me the power to execute and run my race. I am very happy, as I am almost back to where I was.”

Justin Gatlin, the world 100m champion, was fourth.

The series concludes in Paarl on 22 March.

Bob Ramsak and organisers for the IAAF