Semenya’s stunner

2009-08-01 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s latest 800m running sensation, Caster Semenya, stunned the athletics fraternity with a blistering one minute 56,72 seconds at the African Junior Championships in Mauritius yesterday.

The 18-year-old not only demolished the South African record of 1:58,85 set by Zelda Pretorius in Pretoria in 1991, but was only 2,71 seconds outside Pamela Jelimo’s World Junior, African and Commonwealth record set last year in Zurich.

With only two weeks remaining before the World Championships in Berlin, Semenya has leapfrogged an amazing 46 places to record the fastest time in the world this year to take the gold medal in the two-lap event. America’s 27 year old Maggie Vessey was the list leader following this week’s Monaco grand prix meeting with a time of one minute 57,84 seconds, followed by a trio of experienced Russian athletes, but yesterdays result in Mauritius opens a completely new potential for South Africa’s medal hopes in women’s middle-distance running. Semenya is the fourth South African woman to dip under the two-minute mark.

Lindie Leibenberg added a second gold medal in the discus, which she spun out to 43,24m, while Alyssa Conley’s 12,17 second 100 m sprint earned silver and Waide Jooste secured bronze in 10,94 seconds in the men’s 100m. Luvo Manyonga completed the early South African medal haul, jumping 7,49 metres in the long jump. The competition continues throughout the weekend.

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