Cape Town — Akani Simbine had a lively crowd on its feet on Wednesday night, scorching to a commanding victory in the men's 200m race at the second leg of the Athletics Grand Prix Series in Potchefstroom, North West.
Competing in cool conditions at the Kenneth McArthur Athletics Stadium, Simbine burst over the line in 20.39 seconds in the half-lap race, finishing nearly half-a-second ahead of runner-up Theodor Young who clocked 20.86.
"It was a bit chilly and there was a breeze which changed direction, but it was a good race," Simbine said after turning out in his first individual race of the year.
"I did what I could do and I'm just glad that I finished the race healthy."
Simbine, the national record holder over the 100m distance, confirmed he would concentrate on the 200m event at the ASA Senior and Combined Events Track and Field Championships at Germiston Athletics Stadium next week.
"I just want to get to SA Champs and be able to compete. I know I haven't been racing and I know I'm not that sharp, but I want to come out and put my best foot down on the track," he said.
In-form athlete Tshepo Tshite won a tactical battle in the men's 800m race. Tshite was locked in a thrilling sprint down the home straight, dipping on the line in 1:46.66 to edge out Boitumelo Masilo of Botswana who grabbed second place in 1:46.67.
In another tight contest, Eljone Kruger won the women's long jump with a 6.32m leap, taking the victory on countback after Mara Griva of Latvia achieved the same distance.
Displaying some versatility, Taylon Bieldt did well to secure a double, first winning the women's 100m hurdles race in 13.84 and then the 200m contest in 24.26, while fellow hurdler Ruan de Vries stormed to an easy victory in the men's 110m event over the barriers in 13.56.
African champion Victor Hogan also showed good form ahead of the national championships, sending the discus sailing out to 62.06m.
There was disappointment, however, for African record holder Sunette Viljoen who was handed a rare defeat on home soil. Viljoen took second place in the women's javelin throw with a best effort of 56.95m, falling narrowly short of Czech athlete Irena Sediva's 57.20m winning heave.
Athletes from Botswana dominated the flat 400m sprints, with Galefele Moroko charging to victory in the women's race in 51.63 and Onkabetse Nkobolo earning top spot in the men's event in 46.29.
There was also success for national triple jump record holder Khotso Mokoena , who won by nearly a metre with a best attempt of 16.40m, and Julia du Plessis, who cleared the bar at 1.75m to finish 10 centimetres ahead of her nearest opponent in the women's high jump.
And the SA men's and women's 4x400m relay teams closed out the meeting in style, with both quartets beating international opposition. The national men's A team won in 3:02.13 and the SA women's squad were triumphant in 3:45.62.
"This has been a complete success for us," said James Moloi, the Acting President of Athletics South Africa. "We created the opportunity and the athletes responded with great vigour to give it their all.
"It was also wonderful to see the many countries that took advantage and participated throughout the series, others travelling more than 10 hours by road to give their athletes the needed exposure to this level of competition. We sincerely appreciate that."
Read this report on News24Wire.com.
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