Caster Semenya won 1500m gold at the African Atheltics Champoinships in Durban ©Getty Images

The third day of the African Athletics Championships Kings Park Athletics Stadium in Durban produced one big surprise - no Kenyan victory in the men’s 3,000 metres steeplechase - and one big non-surprise, namely home athlete Caster Semenya , the former world 800m champion who has dominated her main event this year, taking the gold medal in the 1500m.

Semenya, winner of all three of her International Association of Athletics Federations’ Diamond League races this season and has the fastest time of 2016 – 1min 56.64sec – did not even need to break four minutes to claim the title and underline her readiness to take on the position as 800m favourite in the Rio 2016 Games.

The 25-year-old won in 4:02.00, with the silver medal going to Morocco’s Rabab Arafi in 4.03.9 and bronze being taken by Ethiopia’s Adenach Anbesa Feyisa in 4:05.20.

Botswana’s London 2012 800m silver medallist and defending champion Nijel Amos lived up to his position as favourite on a day when team-mate athlete Isaac Makwala, the defending champion over 400m, failed to make the podium.

Amos clocked 1:45.38 to deny two home athletes a chance of adding to the hosts’ gold roster – Jacob Rozani took silver ahead of Rynhardt Van Rensburg.

The men’s 400m produced a shock as Makwala, who set an African record of 43.72sec last year, finished outside the medals in a race where two of his fellow countrymen took silver and gold.

Makwala, winner of this event at the previous two Africa Championships, could only manage a time of 46.6 for fourth place as the title went to Baboloki Thebe in 44.7, with team-mate Karabo Sibanda taking silver in 45.4 and bronze going to Nigeria’s Chidi Okezie in 45.8.

Botswana's London 2012 800m silver medallist Nijel Amos successfully defended his African title in Durban ©Getty Images
Botswana's London 2012 800m silver medallist Nijel Amos successfully defended his African title in Durban ©Getty Images

There was an even bigger shock in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase where, for the first time since Morocco’s former world record holder Brahim Bouli in 2002, the race did not go to a Kenyan athlete.

Abraham Kibiwott was the only Kenyan to get onto the podium, taking bronze in 8:24.2 behind two Ethiopians - Chalo Beyo Techo, winner of the gold medal in 8:21.0, and Gigsa Tolosa Nurgi, who took silver with 8:22.8.

In the absence of world 400m hurdles champion Nicholas Bett, fellow Kenyan Boniface Mucheru took the honours with a winning time of 49.2 ahead of Senegal’s Amadou Ndiaye in 49.4 and another Kenyan, Aron Koech, who earned bronze in 49.4.

Nigeria produced a clean sweep in the women’s discus thanks to Nwanneka Okwelogu with 56.75 metres, Chinwe Okoro 55.67m and Chioma Onyekwere 53.91m.

The nearest challenger to their dominance, Ghana’s Julia Agawu, who managed 51.74m.

Kabange Mupopo of Zambia won the women’s 400m in 51.60 from Kenya’s Margaret Nyairera and Patience George of Nigeria.

A leap of 2.21m earned Kenya’s Mathew Sawe the men’s high jump title ahead of Keagan Fourie of South Africa on 2.18m and Cameroon’s Fernand Djoumessi 2.15m.

South Africa’s men’s and women’s sprint relay teams brought the evening to an acceptable conclusion for the bulk of the crowd as they won the gold medals in respective times of 38.8 and 43.7.