'Fat' Caster clashes with coach

Wilhelm de Swardt - Beeld

Pretoria - There appears to be something seriously wrong with Caster Semenya, South Africa’s women’s 800m world champion.

These are the rumours doing the rounds over the past few weeks in local athletics circles.

Those in the know predict Semenya will struggle to defend her 800m title in 10 days time at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

Athletes who train with her at Tukkies’ LC de Villiers stadium say that she is regularly late for her practice sessions and does her own thing at training.

It is also reported she is overweight.

The most worrying rumour is that the relationship between Semenya and her coach, Michael Seme, is not what it should be.

Semenya’s agent, Jukka Härkönen, should apparently shoulder the blame for that.

The reason why Semenya decided not to take part in the recent IAAF World University Games is not only because she had problems with a back injury. Härkönen apparently advised her to withdraw because there wasn’t enough prize money.

It was not the first time that Härkönen has harmed the relationship between a South African athlete and their coach.

Härkönen is the reason why Khotso Mokoena has not been mentored by a recognised long jump coach for the past two years. Mokoena’s performances over the past 24 months paint a grim picture.

He hardly participated last year due to injury and this year struggled to qualify for the World Championships.

If this year’s statistics are taken into account, there is reason for concern. Semenya’s list of performances are nothing to get excited about.

Semenya currently holds the 13th best 800m time this year. Her best run of 1:58.61 is almost two seconds slower than Russia's Mariya Savinova 1:56.95 world leading effort.

The only Diamond League success Semenya has enjoyed was in Paris where her winning time was a modest 2:00.18.

At the Diamond League meet in Stockholm, a clearly overweight Semenya finished eighth with 2:01.28.

Statistics for the past two years show clearly how Semenya’s performances since the 2009 World Championships, when she won the gold medal in Berlin in a time of 1:55.45, have deteriorated.

In 2009 Semenya could boast having two of the fastest times in the world.

Her winning time of 1:56.72 at the Junior Africa meet in Mauritius that year was the second fastest. Last year she was only the sixth fastest athlete with a time of 1:58.16.

So it would appear Semenya in three years has become almost three seconds slower.

The question that urgently needs an answer is if Semenya is still good enough to beat the best in the world.
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