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Athletics

Luxolo Adams blows away Olympic champ to win Paris Diamond League

Luxolo Adams celebrates after winning the men's 200m in Paris.
Luxolo Adams celebrates after winning the men's 200m in Paris.
Image: REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Sprinter Luxolo Adams captured the first Diamond League victory of his career on Saturday night, downing Olympic champion Andre De Grasse on his way to a scorching 19.82sec.

It’s the second-fastest any South African has ever been over that distance, behind Clarence Munyai’s 19.69 SA record, but ahead of Wayde van Niekerk’s 19.84 best and the 19.87 set by Anaso Jobodwana while winning bronze at the 2015 world championships.

Akani Simbine, with 19.95, is the only other countryman to have broken 20 seconds.

Adams, who went into the meet with a 20.28 season’s best and a 20.01 personal best from 2018, blew away the field by more than 0.2ec at Stade Charléty in Paris to secure qualification for the world championships in Eugene, Oregon, next month. 

Alexander Ogando of the Dominican Republic, an Olympic silver medallist in the mixed 4x400m relay, was second in 20.03, Frenchman Mouhamadou Fall was third in 20.26 and then came the Canadian, owner of six Olympic medals, in 20.38 in his third 200m of the year. 

For Adams, who grew up in the north-eastern Cape town of Burgersdorp before winning scholarships to school and university in Gqeberha, his time ranks him fourth on the world list for 2022, behind Americans Erriyon Knighton, the new kid on the block with 19.49, Noah Lyles (19.61) and Fred Kerley (19.80).

Luxolo Adams reacts after winning the men's 200m.
Luxolo Adams reacts after winning the men's 200m.
Image: REUTERS/ GONZALO FUENTES

Adams finished fifth in the final at the SA championships in a pedestrian 21.14, failing to qualify for the recent African championships in Mauritius. 

He went to Paris armed with determination and a pair of adidas’s new carbon-fibre spike. The manufacturer has finally caught up with the technology used by its rivals which dominated the sprints in 2021. 

The 25-year-old first showed his promise in 2018, winning in Hengelo and qualifying for the Diamond League final at the end of the season.  

But injury curtailed his season in 2019 and then came Covid-19. 

It seems he’s back on track in time for the world championships, which kick off on July 15.


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