Caster adds a second

DAY 2: Friday, April 26

Caster Semenya wrapped up a rare double, cruising to another national title on Friday 26 April as she closed out a thrilling second day of action at the Sizwe Medical Fund and 3SixtyLife ASA Senior Track and Field and Combined Events Championships at Germiston Athletics Stadium.

Taking the lead at the gun, Semenya stormed clear to win the women’s 1,500m final in 4:13.59.  She finished nearly 16 seconds ahead of the rest of the field, adding the metric mile crown to the 5,000m title she won the day before.

Earlier, Tshepang Makhethe stunned 23-time national champion Chris Harmse to win the men’s hammer throw final. With 45-year-old Harmse targeting his 24th successive gold medal, Makhethe sent the hammer sailing out to 72.25m, setting a Personal Best. Harmse settled for the silver medal with a 71.70m heave.

“I just told myself to go out and have fun.  My coach was here which helped to settle the emotions a bit,” Makhethe said. “When I got that 72 it kind of cemented it a bit because I thought it would be out of Chris’ reach, and it was, so that was a relief. I am 23 and I broke a 23 year winning streak. I still can’t believe it. But finally I got the title after six years of trying.”

Other highlights on the day included versatile jumper, Khotso “Crocodile” Mokoena clinching his seventh national title in the men’s triple jump with a 16.81m effort, and Antonio Alkana earning a commanding win in the men’s 110m hurdles final in 13.38.

Tshepang Makhethe stunned 23-time national champion Chris Harmse to win the men’s hammer throw final. Photo: Tobias Ginsberg

“I am looking to get into some Diamond League events,” said Mokoena. “I need to be competing against guys who can hit 17plus meters. But winning the title is always important.”

Alkana won his fifth title, dominating from the gun. Despite that, he did not have a clean race as he hit a number of hurdles. “I know I need to work on my strength a bit as I hit those hurdles. Also my start needs improving. But I am happy with my time and the title. I am hoping to get into Shanghai (Diamond League), but having qualified for Worlds (IAAF World Championships) already, I can do a proper preparation.”

Mpho Links sailed over the bar at 2.25m to take gold in the men’s high jump and middle distance prospect, Ryan Mphahlele won a tactical men’s 1 500m final in 3:43.60. Mphahlele went out hard from the gun, but Jerry Motsau challenged with 600m to go. Motsau took the lead at the bell, but down the back straight they went toe-to-toe with Mphahlele only breaking away in the final 200m.

“The title was important. The time I am not happy with, but the title I am. That box is now ticked,” said Mphahlele. “This is my first track title so it’s really amazing for me.”

Ryan Mphahlele won a tactical men’s 1,500m final in 3:43.60. Photo: Tobias Ginsberg