Caster ready to show her old rivals her heels
Now that Caster Semenya has qualified for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships, the former global champion is looking forward to rekindling her rivalry with the Kenyans, although the top Russian runners will be ominously absent.
Russian runners have dominated the 800m international competition scene, but are dealing with fresh allegations of doping in the lead-up to the World Championships that start in Beijing, China, in a fortnight. Two of their biggest stars will not be on the track.
Said Semenya: “I am just happy to have qualified because the expectations were high that I would return to the world champs.” She slipped into the China-bound Team SA in a time of 2:00.72 in Linz, Austria, last Saturday.
The 24-year-old’s victory marked her season-best time, as she also met the required 2:01.00 standard entry for Beijing.
Semenya failed to qualify for the previous edition in Moscow two years ago, and is yet to break the two-minute barrier since her 1:58.92 at an IAAF World Challenge meeting in Italy in 2013.
“I am in good shape at the moment, but I’m not going to put pressure on myself.
“I am just going to run a good championship race,” said the 2009 world champion.
Semenya said she was eager for fierce competition, as she has been participating in low-key international meetings during her resurgence.
“I know the rivals [Russian and Kenyan runners] have had good competitions with impressive times [leading to the Beijing showpiece].
“The championships race is going to be fast.”
Kenya has named defending world champion Eunice Jepkoech Sum (27) and 2011 bronze medallist Janeth Jepkosgei (31) in their team.
FOCUSED ON THE PODIUM The 23-year-old
Anaso Jobodwana has
consistently finished in the 200m top three in his Diamond League debut
CONTENDERS Caster Semenya will take on the Russians and Kenyans in Beijing