Manyonga and Samaai lead the medal charge for SA at world champs

05 August 2017 - 09:32
By David Isaacson
Luvo Manyonga during day 2 of the ASA Senior Championships at PUK McArthur Stadium on April 22, 2017 in Potchefstroom, South Africa.
Image: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images Luvo Manyonga during day 2 of the ASA Senior Championships at PUK McArthur Stadium on April 22, 2017 in Potchefstroom, South Africa.

It’s medal time‚ South Africa.

Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai will lead the country’s first world championship podium charge in the long jump on Saturday night after easily qualifying on Friday night.

Caster Semenya returns for the 1500m semifinals on Saturday night‚ and if she looks as comfortable as she did in the heats‚ her chief rivals could be particularly worried going into Monday’s final.

But Akani Simbine will have to improve significantly if he wants to firstly make the final and then take a gong in the last event at the London stadium on Saturday night.

He progressed as fastest loser after ending fourth in his heat in a race where he looked as flat as a pancake.

His 10.15sec was his second-slowest time of the season.

Simbine complained afterwards that the starter had held them up for too long. “I lost concentration‚” he said‚ adding he had also been surprised by how fast his rivals had gone.

It was the fastest heat of the night‚ with Jamaican Julian Forte clocking 9.99‚ the best time of the heats.

“I won’t let it get to me in the semifinals‚” Simbine said. “I feel in shape‚ I feel good.”

Bolt won his heat in 10.07 after stumbling out the blocks in a repeat of the 2012 Olympic heats at the same venue‚ when he went 10.09.

“I'm not very fond of these blocks‚” said the Jamaican. “I think these are the worst ones I've ever experienced. I have to get this start together because I can't keep doing this.

“It's shaky. When I did my warm up it pushed back. It is just not what I am used to. Not as sturdy or firm.”

But the crowd loved Bolt‚ just as they adored their hero Mo Farah with ear-splitting applause as he retained his 10‚000m crown after a sprint finish.

Stephen Mokoka‚ as expected‚ was never in contention in that race‚ getting lapped as he finished fifth from the back more than a minute and 24 seconds behind the winner.

Samaai was chuffed after he had secured automatic qualification with his third and final jump of 8.14m‚ the third best effort of the evening overall.

“I just had to get on the board‚” said Samaai. “I needed these jumps tonight to prepare for tomorrow.”

At the last championships two years ago he was one of SA’s three jumpers who all failed to advance‚ and Samaai hadn’t forgotten.

“This morning I was a bit nervous thinking back to Beijing.”

Manyonga beat the 8.05m he needed to advance to the final on his effort‚ sailing to 8.12m in his first competitive jump since he injured the ankle of his left leg — the one he jumps with — in mid-June.

The opening session on Friday also made a mockery of Athletics SA’s crazy selection policy‚ where they claimed they chose only athletes who would advance past the heats.

Of the seven SA athletes in qualification battles‚ three didn’t make it.

Zarck Visser missed out in the long jump‚ Victor Hogan fell short in the discus and Thando Roto was disqualified in the 100m heats after a false start.

Henricho Bruintjies‚ who was omitted from the squad despite qualifying‚ would surely have advanced to the 100m semifinals; his 10.06 season’s best and 10.23 average for the year was quicker than 10.24‚ the slowest qualifying time for the semifinals.