Semenya gears up for domestic season

2010-01-14 09:39

WORLD 800m champion Caster Semenya will compete in South Africa’s

domestic athletics season as she waits to hear her fate from the International

Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Athletics SA (ASA) announced today that track and field sponsors

Yellow Pages had come back on board, and Semenya’s coach, Michael Seme,

confirmed she would embark on her 2010 season at the end of the month.

ASA was set to confirm the schedule for the Yellow Pages Series

this afternoon, and Seme said Semenya would take part in the first event of the

series, regardless of the date or venue of the opening meeting which is expected

to be held at the end of this month.

“She will run in at least three Yellow Pages races this year,” Seme

said on Wednesday. “We don’t have the fixtures yet, but we are sure she will run

in the first meeting.”

She won’t, however, compete in more than one 800m race before the

national championships, Seme added, with the 19-year-old focusing on speed work

ahead of a busy season.

“She will only run one 800m race,” Seme said. “She will concentrate

on the 400m and if there are no 400m races at certain meetings she will run the

1?500m.”

Seme also said Semenya would compete on the European circuit this

season after her gender tests, followed by an international media probe, had

prevented her from competing after winning the world title in a national record

1:55.45 in Berlin, Germany, last August.

“Last year there were obviously problems and she was not able to

compete in those big events,” Seme said. “She received many invites after

winning the world title, and even before that, but because of what happened she

chose not to take part. But this year is different and she is planning to

compete in some of those events.”

Seme denied media reports today that Semenya was aiming at three

international titles this season.

With the closing ceremony of the World Junior Championships in

Moncton, Canada, and the opening ceremony of the African Athletics Championships

in Nairobi, Kenya, just three days apart, Seme said Semenya would not compete in

both.

“She will choose one of those events, but she hasn’t decided which

one,” he said.

She also has her sights set on the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi,

India, in October.

Semenya made international headlines last year after the IAAF

conducted gender tests on her a few days before her first round heat at the

World Championships.

It was later revealed that ASA had also tested her after she won

the African junior title earlier in the year.

Australian media reported that the IAAF results showed she was a

hermaphrodite, but the international governing body for the sport would not

confirm or deny the reports.

The IAAF, however, has still not made a decision on whether or not

Semenya can compete with women, and at the moment she is geared towards a full

season of competition.

A member of the IAAF medical commission, who asked not to be named,

told Sapa that the commission would meet next week, but Semenya’s case was

unlikely to be on the agenda.

With suspended ASA president Leonard Chuene and his board set to

face disciplinary hearings later this month after their bungling of the Semenya

affair and reported financial mismanagement, the South African government is to

meet with the IAAF to discuss the issue.

“The medical commission meets next week, but I don’t think we’ll

even talk about Caster Semenya,” the medical official said. “We’re still waiting

for South Africa to meet with the IAAF, but I’m sure the minister (SA Sports

Minister Makhenkesi Stofile) will handle that.

“With all the politics involved in ASA we were unable to resolve

the Caster Semenya matter, but now that things have settled down, it should be

sorted out soon.”

Yellow Pages were reluctant to sign a new deal after their contract

with ASA ended last season, but the ASA interim board confirmed today that the

sponsor had signed a new contract and the track and field season would go ahead

as normal.


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