Saturday night belonged to South Africa’s two dominant long jumpers, Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai, who took Gold and Bronze with 8.48m and 8.32m respectively.

Samaai was the higher placed after his first leap to 8.25, with Manyonga failing to register and then securing his lead with 8.48m in the second trial.
American Jarrion Lawson improved over the course of the competition to end with 8.44m but the emotion of victory was clearly seen on Munyonga when it was clear that Lawson had not improved on his final trial, the gold was secure for the South African

Neutral athlete Alexandr Menkov, failed to find a rhythm with his first round 8.27m being the only of the night, but it was sufficient to give him third place until Samaai’s final round leap of 8.32m elevated him into Bronze, to make South Africa the only country other than USA to have multiple medals in the Long Jump in the same competition.

“We are going to continue to dominate (this event) for years,” proclaimed an overjoyed Samaai. “We are friends and competitors who encourage and support each other – its like family”

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Manyonga celebrated lying, making angels in the sandpit. “I was just scared that it would be a repeat of Rio, but this is the first (medal) and more to come. I see the world record soon, I don’t know when, but it will happen.”
The two Paarl-based athletes have earned the first medals towards South Africa’s dream of improving on the 2003 Paris haul of 4 from track and field and one in the Marathon.

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Akani Simbine had early success in the 100m semi, making up for the rather sluggish run in Friday night heats as a result of a hip impingement. Running in lane 2 he powered from the gun to the line in 10.05 to edge out USA’s Justin Gatlin but both went through to a highly anticipated final where the script had Usain Bolt, bowing out by adding to his 11 World Championship Golds.

The script writers had it wrong!
The anti-Gatlin crowd made their feelings heard booing the American as each athlete was introduced into the line up, and the contrasting roars for Bolt and Brit Reece Prescod left absolutely no doubt on who was supposed to win.

Gatlin had the final say taking the gold in a seasons best 9.92 sec, ahead of countryman Christian Coleman in 9.94, with a slow starting Bolt securing Bronze by equalling his Monaco Diamond League 9.95.

There was a momentarily re-think amongst the crowd as the facts unfolded on the screen. The attention and focus remained on Bolt who, as expected, was humble and gracious in defeat:

“This place is wonderful and I appreciate this crowd so much. It is just one of those things. Thank you to London for all your love and appreciation,” said the world athletic legend. “My start is killing me. Normally it gets better during the rounds but it didn’t come together. And that is what killed me”

“It was rough. A little bit stressed. But I came out like at any other championships and I did my best. Thanks for the support. I could never expect this from any other crowd,” continued the Jamaican who for once had failed to extend on his 147 victory dances. “It (the atmosphere) was wonderful. I knew they would come out. I’m just disappointed I couldn’t do better for them but that’s how it goes sometimes.”

Simbine, who was pleased to make the final, was a credible 5th in 10.01, his fastest of the series, behind Yohan Blake’s 9.99. The south African was headed for recovery and further treatment to his hip in preparation towards his challenge in 200m later in the week.

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Earlier in the evening Caster Semenya ran a tactical race, doing the minimum required, secured her place in Mondays 1500m final with a 4:03.80 for third place.
Ironically eight of the 12 finalists have faster PB’s than the Rio 800m Gold medalist, but given her shorter distance performances, Semenya, can be predicted to be capable of a 3:55 or better over the metric mile.
Only Genzebe Dibaba has gone faster, with Laura Muir in the same range. The final can be expected to be a fast, rather than tactical race, as the others look to run the legs out of the South African as opposed to allowing her the benefit of her ‘Turbo boost’ over the final lap. It would seem however that there is little hope of Zola Budd’s (Pieterse) 1984 record of 4:01.81 surviving the rigors of Monday’s final.

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Sunday presents a full day of athletics with:
Lusapho April Desmond Mokgobu and Sibusiso Nzima in the mens marathon at 11:55 (RSA time)
Antonio Alkana expected to progress through the 110m hurdle heats and semis (heats 14:15, semis 21:10)
Mapaseka Makhanya and Jenna Challenor targeting times in the womens marathon (15:00)
Carina Horn tackling the tough task of making the final in the 100m (semi 20:10, Final22:50)
And the evening feature being the progression of Wayde van Neikerk in the 400m Semi (20:40)

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