Superb performances were produced again on Saturday, as the nation's elite athletics stars and rising prospects delivered in front of a lively crowd on the third and final day of the South African Track and Field Championships, held at Tuks Athletics Stadium in Tshwane.
World champion Caster Semenya displayed her fine form once more, charging to a commanding victory in the 800m Women's final.
She stopped the clock at 1:57.80 for her fastest time on home soil ever, securing the 800m/1,500m double and offered a glimpse of what can be expected from her at sea level ahead of her 1,500m race at the final leg of the Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix Series in Paarl next week.
"It's a great time. Obviously we always want to experience something new," Semenya said. "We need to try and run the same pace at home that we run in the European season. We're doing this for our people, and it's all about growing South African athletics."
Another global champion, Luvo Manyonga, catapulted himself 8.41m across the sandpit to win gold in the Men's Long Jump, 20 centimetres clear of IAAF World Championships bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai.
"I feel great, and happy to compete in front of a South African crowd," Manyonga said. "I'm happy with my performance today, and it's my first outdoor (meeting of the season), so I'm excited for more competition."
"When I crossed the line and saw '51', I had to look twice. There's no way to explain it. I'm very excited."Justine Palframan
Meanwhile, 17-year-old world youth champion Zeney van der Walt stunned the crowd by grabbing the silver medal in the 400m Women's Hurdles final.
In a gutsy performance, she was edged out by Wenda Nel, who won gold in 55.01 seconds. Van der Walt held on for second place in 55.05*, breaking the SA Junior record of 55.74 set by Myrtle Bothma in Bloemfontein in April 1983.
"I just ran my own race and focused on my own 10 hurdles," Van der Walt said. "This gives me a lot of confidence, and now I know I can reach my sub-55 goal."
Sprinter Justine Palframan won the Women's 200m (22.97) and 400m (51.31) titles just 45 minutes apart.
"It's not what I expected. Going into the 400m I tried not to be negative, because my body was feeling a bit tired," Palframan said. "When I crossed the line and saw '51', I had to look twice. There's no way to explain it. I'm very excited."
In other events, Luxolo Adams won the Men's 200m final in 20.08 after new national record holder Clarence Munyai withdrew, and Lindsay Hanekom took the Men's 400m Hurdles in 49.17, dragging five men under the 50-second barrier.
In the morning session, Wayne Snyman won the Men's 20km Race Walk in 1:24:58 in cold and wet conditions, in the absence of SA record holder Lebogang Shange, who withdrew from the event for personal reasons.
"What a wonderful week for South African athletics! We are very proud our athletes who produced outstanding and high-level performances. [We have] seen several SA records broken and the making of new champions including the emergence of young superstars," said Aleck Skhosana, president of ASA.