Caster goes for gold in final medal charge

2011-09-03 21:25

Caster Semenya will lead South Africa’s last charge for medals on the final day of the IAAF World Championships in Athletics today.

Semenya, the women’s 800m defending champion, and SA’s 4x100m relay team of Hannes Dreyer, Ofentse Mogawane, Roscoe Engel and Thuso Mpuang, are in the finals and are expected to add to the country’s three medals so far.

The games end tonight. Semenya has been backed by unlikely sources ahead of her second straight final in the two years since graduating from the junior ranks.

Russian Ekaterina Kostetskaya, who took the second spot in the same heat as Semenya in the semifinals on Friday, said they were all surprised by the 20-year-old’s form, particularly after the semifinals.

“It’s very likely she’ll come back stronger in the final,” said Kostetskaya, who trains in the US.

“She’s my competitor and it’s good to have her back and also good to have someone who’s a faster challenger. I didn’t realise she passed me. It was so quick (in the semifinals). She definitely wanted to be in the final.”

Marilyn Okoro of Britain, who failed to qualify in the semifinals on Friday, said she was anticipating an explosive performance from Semenya in a race in which the winner will run away with a $60­ 000 (about R420 000) first prize.

“It was probably about time Caster ran like that. She’s run 1.55 (at Berlin 2009) and 1.58 is still not Semenya territory – she hasn’t shown the Semenya of 2009, but she’s been through a lot of changes and you don’t know when the (incredible) performance is going to come out.”

Meanwhile, the 4x100m team will have to negotiate their way past the heats before they think about a medal.

Following the success of the 4x400m relay team this week, the spotlight is now on Ofentse Mogawane to inject his speed into the 4x100m group.

Mogawane – together with LJ van Zyl, Willie de Beer and Shane Victor – won the country a silver medal in the 4x400m relay final on Friday.

He is going to be the chaser in the line-up that has senior champs debutant Engel at number three.

“I made it into the history books with the 4x400m team and I am proud to be a South African,” said Mogawane.

“People back home are expecting a positive result from this team. I feel confident because I can still sprint despite being a 400m runner.”

Engel was equally prepared for the occasion.

“The combination we have will no doubt post a good time.

“I hope to make a difference at number three; I’m the new member in the team that has experienced guys like Hannes and Thuso.”

The Boland Athletics youngster was part of the team that won bronze in the 2008 World Junior champs in the Czech Republic.

The 800m final will be broadcast on SuperSport7A from 1.15pm (SA time)

» The men’s marathon team of Coolboy Ngamole, Lucky Mohale and David Ngakane would have competed by the time you read this – check results at www.iaaf.org and visit www.citypress.co.za for a full report on how Team SA performed at Daegu 2011 

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