Caster aims for a sub–two semi

2012-08-08 12:46

South African medal hopeful Caster Semenya is aiming to run the 800m in below two minutes in the Olympic semifinals tomorrow.

Semenya debuted on the Olympic stage with a second place finish in 2:00.71 during the heats this morning.

She said afterwards: “The race seemed to be okay. It was a little bit faster in the first lap and I just had to maintain the pace to keep in the top three.”

As for her chances of progressing, she said: “Yeah, 800m is a tactical race – you have to know how to run it from the back to front. Normally it’s always like that. You have to run sub-two to be a good contender, so that’s what I’m looking for.”

Semenya started the first half of the race with the back pack but held off a strong challenge – from Halima Hachlaf of Morocco (third in 2:00.99) and Mary Almanza of Cuba (fourth in 2:01.19) – to cross the line in two minutes.

Semenya’s biggest threat is the Kenyan pair of Pamela Jelimo and Janeth Jepkosgei.

She will go head-to-head with Jepkosgei in the semifinals heats tomorrow (8.30pm SA time).

Jelimo, the defending Olympic champion, ran the world leading time this year with her 1:56.76 in Germany last month while Jepkosgei was the bronze winner during last year’s world championships in South Korea, where Semenya took silver.

Semenya has never really lived up to expectations in the build-up to the Olympics.

She has only broken the two-minute barrier on two occasions: a 1:59.18 in Germany last month and 1:59.98 in Pretoria in April.

The women’s 800m final will run on Saturday (9pm SA time).

» Semenya’s performances so far this year (rankings in bracket):

2:00.71 – London Olympics, heats (2nd)

1:59.18 – Germany (1st)
2:01.20 – Germany (1st)
2:01.67 – France (9th)

2:00.07 – Italy (8th)
2:00.80 – Czech Republic (2nd)

2:02.68 – Port Elizabeth (1st)
1:59.58 – Pretoria (1st)

2:03.60 – Potchefstroom (1st)

Follow us on Twitter: @DanieMothowagae and @City_Press

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