Caster Semenya after winning GOLD at the 2015 African Games in Congo Brazzaville

South Africa’s Caster Semenya made history on Saturday, April 16, by becoming the first woman in her country’s history to win National titles in the 400m, 800m and 1500m as the curtain fell on the SA Senior Championships in Stellenbosch.

The 2009 World Champion was no doubt the standout athlete of the competition as she blazed the tracks to do a TRIPLE, winning the 400m and 800m with World Leads (WL), even though both races were only 45 minutes apart.

Incidentally, the 2015 African Games champion has already met the Olympic qualifying marks for both events, although her focus for the Games is expected to be the 800m.

Semenya first stormed to the 400m title with a scorching time of 50.74s to finish ahead of Zoe Engler (53.30s) and Tsholofelo Thipe (54.11s). She went on to become the first woman to dip under two minutes in the 800m this year by clocking another WL of 1:58.45, while Liza Kellerman took Silver in 2:05.75 as Gina Lofstrand placed 3rd in 2:06.65.

Three hours later, she consolidated on these performances by taking her third GOLD medal of the day, winning the 1500m in 4:10.93. The London 2012 Silver medallist is certainly looking forward to upgrade to GOLD come Rio.

Commonwealth Games Bronze medallist in the Long Jump, Rushwahl Samaai wasn’t left out in the WL feat as he retained his title by leaping his way to the top of the standings with a distance of 8.34m, just 4cm shy of his Personal Best (PB) set a year ago at the National Championships.

Dylon Cotter took Silver with 7.86m while Stefan Brits settled for Bronze in 7.80m. Fierce rivals Zarck Visser and Khotso Mokoena pulled out of the event.

Alyssa Conley added the 200m title to the 100m GOLD she won the previous day. She returned a time of 23.01s, thus sealing her place for the Olympics, while Melissa Swanepoel (24.13s) and Madia Ehlers (24.24s) placed 2nd and 3rd respectively.

18-year old Clarence Munyai emerged the surprise winner of the men’s 200m by taking the title in 20.74s.

World champion Wayde van Niekerk cemented his status as the man to beat in the 400m, racing to the title in 44.98s. Shaun de Jager was 2nd in 45.90s while Pieter Conradie finished 3rd in 45.95s.

Caster Semenya after winning GOLD at the 2015 African Games in Congo Brazzaville
Caster Semenya after winning GOLD at the 2015 African Games in Congo Brazzaville

Yemi Galadima is a Senior Sportswriter and Editor at Making of Champions. She has a bias for Athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the African Athletics Championships, African Games, Olympics and World Athletics Championships. She also freelances for World Athletics.


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