Semenya, Manyonga eye Diamond League titles

Caster Semenya (Getty Images)
Caster Semenya (Getty Images)

Cape Town - World champions Caster Semenya and Luvo Manyonga will lead the charge this week, with a large South African contingent taking on the global elite at the IAAF Diamond League finals on Thursday and Friday.

At the first Meeting of the two-leg series final to be held in Zurich, Switzerland on Thursday night, eight SA athletes will be in action.

Semenya has opted to focus on the 800m women contest, after qualifying for the 800m and 1 500m finals, and she will target her third straight Diamond League season title over the two-lap distance.

Having earned the Commonwealth Games and African Championships titles this year, she will be confident of retaining her Diamond League crown before she closes out her season at the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava, Czech Republic next month.

Manyonga, meanwhile, will be eager to prove he is still the best in the Long Jump on the international circuit.

Even though his Cuban rival Juan Miguel Echevarria is not in the start lists, Manyonga will line up against compatriot Ruswahl Samaai, who edged him out to retain the African title in Asaba, Nigeria earlier this month, and promising an exciting battle on the cards.

On Thursday, national record holder Carina Horn goes into the 100m women race, SA champion Luxolo Adams lines up in the  200m men, Pieter Conradie is in the 400m men sprint, and experienced athletes Cornel Fredericks and Wenda Nel enter the blocks in the men's and women's 400m hurdles events, respectively.

Sprinter Akani Simbine will be the only SA athlete chasing a Diamond League title at the second leg of the finals in Brussels, Belgium on Friday evening. Simbine, who has produced consistent performances throughout the 2018 campaign, will contest 100m Men.

Though Nel is also in the start list for the Brussels meeting, the 400m women hurdles race is not a Diamond League discipline and she will compete in the pre-programme.

SA athletes competing at the IAAF Diamond League finals in Europe this week:

Zurich, Thursday:
20:04 - 400m men (Pieter Conradie)
20:13 - 800m women (Caster Semenya)
20:40 - 100m women (Carina Horn)
20:45 - long jump men (Luvo Manyonga, Ruswahl Samaai)
21:02 - 400m hurdles women (Wenda Nel)
21:11 - 200m men (Luxolo Adams)
21:44 - 400m hurdles en (Cornel Fredericks)

Brussels, Friday:
19:46 - 400m hurdles women (Wenda Nel)*
20:54 - 100m men (Akani Simbine)

*Event does not form part of Diamond League series

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