South African athletes have made the country proud at the 2017 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships, held in London in August 2017. Golds for Caster Semenya and Wayde van Niekerk helped South Africa place third on the final medal tally, behind the USA and Kenya.
South Africa won six medals in total, two bronze, one silver and three golds.
Caster Semenya – 1,500m
Semenya began this year’s championship with a third place in an event that is not always her strongest. Slightly off the pace of her personal best for the 1,500m (4:01.99 in Sasolburg in 2016), Semenya came in behind Jennifer Simpson (USA) and gold medal winner Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon from Kenya, to record South Africa’s first medal for the championship.
Ruswahl Samaai – long jump
While fellow South African Luvo Manyonga took gold for the long jump final, Samaai fought hard and long during the heats to earn his bronze for the event. Hovering at fifth place for most of his jumps, which included two failed attempts, the 25-year-old Capetonian made his last two jumps count, leaping 8.27m and 8.32m respectively to claim third place, behind American Jarrion Lawson.
“I’ve been working towards this medal, so there are a lot of emotions going through my mind, going through my body,” Samaai told AP after the medals ceremony. “I’m just embracing this journey. This medal represents the struggle I’ve been through, and I’m just grateful to get to stand on the podium and represent my country.”
Wayde van Niekerk – 200m
Van Niekerk began the week in London with a second place in the 200m, behind Ramil Guliyev from Turkey. Van Niekerk ran 20.11, slightly slower than his personal best, but the medal is his first IAAF trophy outside his signature 400m event, as he builds up his confidence to perhaps master the 100m in the future.
Jereem Richards from Trinidad and Tobago came third.
Wayde van Niekerk – 400m
There is no stopping South Africa’s golden boy Van Niekerk, following his Olympic and 2015 Championship win in the 400m. He took the gold in London with a time of 43.98, ahead of Steve Gardiner from the Bahamas and Qatar’s Abdalelah Haroun.
“Wayde is too good to be stopped,” Gardiner said after the race. “South Africa has found itself a superstar. He seems to be here to dominate for a long time, too.”
Luvo Manyonga – long jump
Following his silver medal win at the Rio Olympics in 2016, Manyonga shone in London, winning the gold with an 8.48m jump, ahead of American Jarrion Lawson and fellow South African Rushwal Samaai.
Showing much confidence after his London win, Manyonga made it clear he wanted to dominate the long jump over the next few years, with the ultimate goal being a gold at the next Olympics, in Tokyo.
“I’m simply the best and will take everything that comes my way, whether they like it or not… I want to be the greatest long jumper in the world, and nobody will stop me from getting there,” he told AP after the win.
Caster Semenya – 800m
Semenya, the popular defending Olympic champion, won her third world championship title in the women’s 800m on the final day of the Championship. Her time was 1:55.16, the fastest time of 2017 for the event.
Semenya was followed by Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba with silver, and American Ajee Wilson taking bronze.
Once again, in her signature move, Semenya stood back in the pack before the final lap bell, and then took advantage of a waning Wilson and Niyonsaba to comfortably take the lead and the win in the final 200m.
Source: Sport24, IAAF website, YouTube
Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.