Diamond jackpot eludes World Champs medallists

Wayde van Niekerk (Gallo Images)
Wayde van Niekerk (Gallo Images)

World Championships medallists Wayde van Niekerk, Anaso Jobodwana and Sunette Viljoen kissed goodbye a combined $120 000 (R1.6 million) in potential earnings at the Zurich, Switzerland, Diamond League meeting this week.

The trio needed to win their remaining Diamond events for each of them to claim the $40 000 overall cash prize in their respective events in the lucrative International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) competition.

Instead, newly crowned 400m world champion Van ­Niekerk and Beijing 200m bronze medallist Jobodwana came third in their respective events on Thursday and ­settled for the $4 000 third-finish cash prize.

Viljoen, who also won bronze in China last week, finished a distant 10th in the javelin final in Zurich.

Of the three, Jobodwana had the most realistic chance of snatching the 200m crown, as he went into Thursday’s competition in the lead.

He had nine points, one ahead of Panama’s Alonso Edward and Great Britain’s Zharnel Hughes, who were jointly second.

Jobodwana had beaten the two to the bronze medal at the recent IAAF World Championships in Beijing a week ago. But Alonso won the race and ran away with the loot.

Van Niekerk, on the other hand, went into his Diamond race on eight points and needed a win to overhaul Kirani James of Grenada, who was on a two-point lead heading to the Zurich meeting – but the Bloemfontein-based sprinter fell four points behind eventual Diamond winner James, and a point adrift of second-placed LaShawn Merritt of the US.

A week ago, the SA 400m champion and record holder beat the two to the gold medal and a $60 000 first prize at the Beijing global championships.

Van Niekerk’s coach, Anna Botha, said the Diamond win would have been a bonus, as their goal was achieved in Beijing, which was for the sprinter to be the world champion.

Meanwhile, Viljoen went to Thursdayand#039;s meeting four points adrift of the Czech Republic’s Barbora Špotáková, who claimed the grand prize.

The meeting in Zurich was the second-last of the ­14-meeting series of the Diamond League that ends in ­Brussels, Belgium, on Friday.

Van Niekerk and Jobodwana will conclude their season in Brussels, where the remaining Diamond champions will be crowned.

The pair will meet multiple world champion Usain Bolt of Jamaica in a non-Diamond race in the 200m final

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