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SA athletes shine at Diamond League in Rome

Wayde van Niekerk, Caster Semenya & Sunette Viljoen all secured victory at the fifth of 14 legs.

Picture: Diamond League.

JOHANNESBURG - South African athletes delivered superb all-round performances on Thursday night, with five competitors finishing among the top two in their respective events at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rome.

Sprinter Wayde van Niekerk, middle-distance runner Caster Semenya and javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen all secured victory at the fifth of 14 legs in the top-flight international campaign.

Van Niekerk, competing in his first international race of the season, won the Men's 400m race in 44.19 seconds.

He led off the final bend and drew clear to cross the line well ahead of Grenada's Bralon Taplin who finished second in 44.43.



Semenya charged to victory in 1:56.64 to equal the world lead she set in Rabat less than two weeks earlier in the Women's 800m.



In warm, humid conditions, Viljoen snatched victory with a best heave of 61.95m.



Two other SA athletes continued to stick their hands up in the early stages of the international campaign, both earning second place in their events.

Victor Hogan launched a 64.03m heave in the fifth round, less than a metre short of Polish athlete Robert Urbanek, and after a conservative start, Wenda Nel stormed down the finishing straight to clock a Season's Best of 54.61 in the Women's 400m Hurdles, with Janeive Russell of Jamaica crossing the line in 53.96 to rack up a new world lead.

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