Long jumper Samaai shines in Rabat‚ Semenya disappoints

17 July 2017 - 07:13 By David Isaacson
Ruswahl Samaai in the mens long jump. File Photo.
Ruswahl Samaai in the mens long jump. File Photo.
Image: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images

Long jumper Ruswahl Samaai scored South Africa’s only win of the Diamond League meet in Rabat on Sunday night as Caster Semenya’s challenge in the women’s 400m ended tamely.

Semenya‚ the Olympic 800m champion‚ went up against 400m counterpart Shaunae Miller-Uibo of Bahamas‚ but she never got close.

Semenya‚ unbeaten in 25 races over two laps‚ ended second last in a slow 51.53sec — more than a second off her 50.40 personal best and way behind Miller-Uibo‚ the winner in 49.44.

Semenya hasn’t run an 800m since mid-June and will do so again at the next Diamond League meet in Monaco on Friday night‚ the last before the world championships in London next month.

Samaai won the men’s long jump after an early ding-dong battle with American Jarrion Lawson.

Both had competed at the Rio Games‚ where Lawson ended fourth and the South African ninth. But on Sunday night Samaai had the better of his US rival.

Samaai‚ the 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist‚ took the lead with an opening effort of 8.21m‚ but Lawson hit back in the second round‚ launching himself to an 8.33m season’s best.

Samaai nearly matched that on his next effort‚ falling just 2cm short. In the third round he powered to 8.35m to reclaim the lead‚ which was enough for the triumph.

That distance also improved his own meeting record. “Rabat is like a second home for me. I hold the meeting record and I wanted to improve that today. I am really jumping well at the moment and I’m hoping to keep in good shape and stay healthy.”

Samaai is hitting good form going into the world championships. On Sunday night he cleared 8.13 or more on five of his jumps‚ opting to give the fourth round a skip.

If Luvo Manyonga recovers fully from his ankle injury‚ SA could challenge for two long-jump podium spots in London.

Khotso Mokoena‚ the Olympic silver medallist in 2008‚ was fifth in Rabat with 7.94m.

Three other SA athletes also ended fifth in Morocco — Wenda Nel‚ Thando Roto and Clarence Munyai.

Nel managed 55.31 in the women’s 400m hurdles‚ Thando Roto 10.26 in the men’s 100m and Clarence Munyai 20.31 in the men’s 200m.