JOHANNESBURG – Sprint stars Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine dominated their respective events on Tuesday night, leading the charge for the South African contingent in Bellinzona, Switzerland.
Competing at a European Tour Bronze meeting, Van Niekerk won his first international race since earning his second 400m world title in August 2017, as he continues to regain momentum after bouncing back from a long-term knee injury.
The world record holder completed the one-lap race in a season’s best of 45.58, with Dutch national champion Jochem Dobber taking second place in 45.78.
Simbine was equally impressive in the men’s 100m race, dipping on the line to take the win in 10.02. He edged out Italian athlete Filippo Tortu, who grabbed the runner-up spot in 10.07.
In the long jump, Ruswahl Samaai took the lead in the second round and extended his advantage with a leap of 8.04 meters in round three. While the African champion had looked set to secure victory, Kristian Pulli of Finland, however, produced a jump of 8.08m in his final attempt to bump Samaai into second position.
“We are happy with performances all round,” said Aleck Skhosana, the president of Athletics South Africa. “It’s good to see Wayde returning with a win and Akani continuing where he left off while improving on his time in his win. Ruswahl and Antonio are showing continued focus in their events. We congratulate each athlete, their respective coaches, and support staff. We trust their hard work will soon pay off.”
Another African champion, Antonio Alkana, held on to secure third place in the 110m hurdles race. Alkana crossed the line in 13.40, slicing 0.13 off his season’s best.
Meanwhile, Simbine and Alkana will hope for a quick recovery as they prepared to hit the track again at the Diamond League meeting in Rome, Italy on Thursday. Simbine lines up in the 100m contest and Alkana enters the blocks in the 110m hurdles race, while compatriot Zane Weir will make his Diamond League debut in the men’s shot put.