Semenya ‘can break world record’

2011-09-06 10:04

Maputo – Mozambican 800m legend Maria Mutola believes Caster Semenya can break the women’s 800m record in the near future.

The Maputo Express, who was speaking at the All Africa Games in her native country, said Semenya’s times indicated that she had the ability to improve on the two-lap record mark.

Semenya on Sunday narrowly missed out on defending her world title at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.
She was beaten shortly before the line by Russian Mariya Savinova in 1:55.87, with Semenya clocking a season’s best of 1:56.35 to earn the silver.

A win for the South African would have made her the first women’s 800m athlete since Mutola to successfully defend her title.

“I always thought she would be the one to break the world record because when she was 18 she was running 1:55s and I think when she is about 25, and more mature, she would probably break the world record,” said Mutola. “If you are 18 and run a 1:55 that means that if you are 20-something you would be able to run between 1:53 and 1:52, and that I see in Caster.

“I hope and I know she can be the one to break that world record that has been standing for a very long time.”
Czech runner Jarmila Kratochvilova set the global mark of 1:53.28 in the 800m in 1983 in Munich.
Mutola said she met Semenya (21) before she left for the world championships to give her advice on the pressures of defending a world title.

“I’ve been talking to Caster. We are friends, not close friends, and I gave her some advice about two weeks ago in Pretoria,” said Mutola.

“She wasn’t sure about going to the world championships so I gave her advice because, even if things are going well, when you go to defend your title your experience will count.”

Mutola (38) said she gave the youngster some tips on her running style and how to be confident at the championships.
Semenya had gone full circle since she won the gold medal at the 2009 world championships in Berlin and had finally put to bed the gender controversy that had dogged her career since running a personal best of 1:55.45.

Mutola used herself as an example as she started competitive athletics at age 14 and only started running faster when she was in her twenties.

“At about 28 years old, I was at the top of my peak,” said Mutola.

“I hope we will see more of Caster and we are all different but the indication of an athlete shows when you are twenty-something you are more mature, with a few world champs on you and you know how to run and do this and that.”

Mutola made her first appearance at the Olympic Games in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea as a 15-year-old. She went on to clinch bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and gold at the 2000 Sydney Games. The Maputo Express also won three world titles in 1993, 2001 and 2003.

Since her retirement from the track after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Mutola returned to the soccer pitch where she said her true passion lay.

Mutola ran out for Mozambique’s women’s soccer team on Saturday when her team narrowly went down 1-0 to Cameroon.
She is a striker for Mamelodi Sundowns’ women’s team and was on the sidelines at Banyana Banyana’s 4-1 win over Zimbabwe yesterday to support some of her South African team-mates.

In her free time, she coaches Mozambican athletes and is involved with the Lurdes Mutola Foundation, which aims to develop young Mozambican sport talent and promote education in the country.

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