Caster Semenya's last gasp bid for world champs

2013-07-28 14:00

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Her times are not yet good enough to qualify.

Former world 800m champion Caster Semenya has until tomorrow to qualify for the IAAF World Championships taking place in Russia in a fortnight.

The 21-year-old is South Africa’s most likely remaining hopeful still in line to earn a qualifying mark ahead of the global track and field meet that runs in Moscow from August 10 to 18.

Semenya ran 2:06.58 and 2:04.48 in Finland a week ago, where she has been training since the end of last month after recovery from a knee injury.

Her finishing time was not enough to qualify as she needs to attain a two-minute mark or at least a 2:01.50 B standard to be eligible for selection.

Semenya’s race on July 17 was her first since the London Olympics a year ago.

Her Finland-based agent Jukka Harkonen told City Press this week: “She is 100% fit and we have been practising to qualify for Moscow.”

Harkonen said Semenya was due to race in Belgium yesterday.

The London Olympics silver medallist is racing against time to feature in her third World Championships since her storming debut on the senior international stage four years ago.

Semenya won gold on her first attempt, in a national record time of 1:55.46 at the Berlin, Germany edition in 2009, but dropped to a silver medal during her defence in Daegu, South Korea in 2011.

The Tuks Athletics runner has delivered a mixed bag of performances since being caught up in a sex-verification row after her Berlin triumph.

She was the most notable name missing when Athletics SA (ASA) announced a provisional 30-member team for Moscow 2013 last week.

ASA president James Evans said Semenya has until the closing date to fight for a place in the team.

“It’s a strong team, probably with more national record holders than any previous squads,” he said.

The athletics world is crossing its fingers for Semenya as the Moscow event has already been robbed of some world-famous athletes.

Apart from the withdrawal of defending champions Jamaican Yohan Blake (100m) and David Rudisha (800m) of Kenya, both owing to injuries, the build-up to the championships has been blighted by doping scandals implicating leading sprinters Asafa Powell of Jamaica and American Tyson Gay, who have, as a result, been withdrawn from the competition.

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