Semenya comes up short in battle of Olympic champions

Caster Semenya gets out of the blocks in the women's 400m Roger Sedres/BackpagePix

South Africa's Caster Semenya still has some way to go if she is going to compete with the world's best in the women's 400m after finishing a disappointing seventh at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rabat, Morocco, on Sunday.

In a race billed as the battle of the Olympic champions, 400m medalist in Rio de Janeiro last year Shaunae Miller-Uibo once again showed why she is the athlete to beat in the single lap event, running a blistering time of 49.80s, more than a second ahead of Americans Natasha Hastings (50.86) and Quenera Hayes (51.08).

Semenya, who has a personal best of 50.40 - set in Brussels last year - finished way off the pace in a time of 51.53.

South Africans did have something to celebrate in the Moroccan capital after Rushwal Samaai (8.35m) edged out the competition in the men's long jump, just ahead of Jarrion Lawson (8.33) and Yahya Berrabah (8.14).

Samaai's countryman Khotso Mokoena had to settle for fifth place after a leap of 7.94.

The men's 100m was won by Britain's Chijindu Ujah in a time of 9.98s, followed closely by Cote d'Ivoire sprinter Ben Yousseff Meite 10.02), while South Africa's Thando Roto (10.26) had to settle for fifth.

Another South African, Clarence Munyai (20.31) also finished fifth, as Andre de Grasse won the men's 200m in 20.03, ahead of American Ameer Webb (20.18) and Britain's Zharnel Hughes (20.22).

Six Africans took part in the men's 800m - Botswana's Nigel Amos (1:43.91) claiming the win, with Kiyegon Bett taking second with a time of 1:44.28. Bett's Kenyan compatriots Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich, Nicholas Kiplangat Kipkoech and Robert Kiptoo Biwott, as well as Moroccan Mostafa Smaili, battled it out for the minor places.

Morocco dominated the podium in the men's 1500m, as Brahim Akachab (3:35.03), Fouad Elkaam (3:36.26) and Younes Essalhi (3:36.90) finished well ahead of the Kenyan contingent of Vincent Letting (3:37.76) and Kumari Taki (3:39.52).

Moroccan athletes continued to have a good night in front of their home crowd, as Soufiane Elbakkali (8:05.12) powered to victory in front of Kenyan duo Jairus Kipchoge Birech (8:10.91) and Amos Kirui (8:12.18) in the men's 3000m steeplechase.

Democratic Republic of Congo's Franck Elemba (20.16m) had to settle for a disappointing eighth place in the men's shot put, which was won by American Olympic champion Ryan Crouser (22.47) in convincing fashion.

Elsewhere, Andriy Protsenko (2.29m) won the men's high jump and Pawel Wojciechowski (5.85) claimed the pole vault title.

In the women's 100m, Jamaica's Elaine Thompson proved too strong for the field and claimed the win in 10.87, marginally ahead of Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou (10.90), with Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare (11.04) in fourth.

Radabe Arafi (4:02.19) just missed out on the win in the women's 1500m, with the Moroccan middle distance runner finishing just behind Poland's Angelika Cichocka (4:01.93).

Germany's Gesa Felicitas Krause (9:18.87) proved to be too strong for the field in the women's 3000m steeplechase, an event traditionally dominated by Africans.

Norah Jeruto Tanui (9:20.51) and Rosefline Chepngetich (9:20.69) finished second and third, as Kenyans had to settle for the minor places once again.

Meanwhile, Zuzana Hejnova (54.22) won the women's 400m hurdles, Caterine Ibarguen (14.51m) claimed the women's triple jump title on the night, while Barbora Spotakova (63.73m) impressed in the women's javelin.