Caster Semenya won the African 400m title in Asaba today in a South African record of 49.96 ©Twitter

Caster Semenya, South Africa’s world and Olympic 800 metres champion, broke the 18-year-old national record as she took gold in the 400m on the third day of the ill-fated 21st African Athletics Championships in Asaba in Nigeria.

Semenya came home in 49.96sec, beating the mark that had stood since 2000 to Heide Seyerling by 0.09 seconds.

Semenya now holds national records in the 400m, 800m, 1000m and 1500m events.

She was followed home by Christine Botslegwe of Botswana in 51.19, while Nigeria's Yinka Ajayi took third in 51.34

The men's 4x100m relay team of individual gold medallist Akani Simbine, Henricho Bruintjies, Simon Magakwe and Emile Erasmus added a second South Afrcan gold on the night as they clocked 38.25 in beating Nigeria and Ivory Coast into second and third respectively in 38.74 an 38.92.

World and Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto earned Kenya’s second gold medal at Stephen Keshi Stadium as he beat Morocco's world silver medallist Soufiane El Bakkali.

Winny Chebet then added to Kenya’s gold tally with victory in the women 1500m in 4 min 14.02sec ahead of two Moroccans, Rababe Aarfi, who recorded 4:14.12, and Akoui Malika, who ran 4:14.17.      

There was a major mix-up in the men’s 800m final which ought to have been recalled after a chaotic start with Kenya's pre-race favourite Emmanuel Korir finishing second behind Botswana’s defending champion Nigel Amos, The Nation reported.

Amos, who occasionally trains in Kenya, won in 145.20 with Korir timed at 1:45.65.

Kenya's Ferguson Rotich, in 1:45.91, and Jonathan Kitilit, in 146.88, finished fifth and sixth in the race that saw the starter blast off before the athletes were ready, prompting some of them to stand still only to take off after the rest of the field was away.

"The race should have been recalled - the organisation at these Championships has been terrible but I’m still focused and will move on," a disappointed Korir said.

Botswana won another gold medal as Thebe Baboloki took the men’s 400m title in 47.68, with Phora Thapelo of South Africa settling for silver, while home runner Chidi Okezie took bronze.

There was disappointment for Kenya in the men’s 400m hurdles, however, where its trio, including world 2015 champion Nicholas Bett, who appeared to encounter a hamstring problem in the home straight, failed to reach the podium.

The gold medal went to Abdel Malik Lahoulou of Algeria in 48.47, with Cornel Fredricks of South Africa taking silver and Tunisia’s Zied Aziz bronze.

Nigeria, which had earned gold medals the previous day through 100m hurdler Tobi Amusan and men’s shot putter Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, collected further titles.

In the women’s discus, Onyekwere Chioma won with 58.09 metres ahead of compatriot Okoro Chinwe, who threw 57.37m, and South Africa’s Ischke Senekal, who reached 53.82m.

Home long jumper Ese Brume won her third consecutive African title with 6.83m ahead of Marthe Koala of Burundi, who recorded 6.54m, and South Africa’s Lynique Beneke, who reached 6.38m.

The home women’s team, featuring a fit-again Blessing Ogagbare, finished on the track with victory in the 4x100m in 43.77sec.

The Ivory Coast were second in 44.40, and Kenya took bronze in 45.58.