Semenya to compete in 400m

Cape Town - Athletics South Africa (ASA) has confirmed that world 800m track champion Caster Semenya will run in Thursday night’s 400m at the third and final leg of the Yellow Pages Invitation Series at the Bellville Stadium.

World and African champion and fastest over 800m in 2009, Semenya has recently started competing again and has opted for the shorter 400m event to test her speed.  The Limpopo athlete has been battling a lower back injury and has failed to return to the form of 2009. 

Rumour has it she would be competing in the 3 000m but with that distance not on the programme, it is just that, a rumour.  Having never raced over 400m as a senior, it will be interesting to see how she performs, but she will be up against a quality field that includes Namibian Tjipekapora Herunga and local runners Alet van Wyk, second quickest in SA over 400m last year, and Sonya van der Merwe, all of whom will give Semenya some tough competition.

The women’s 100m hurdles will see junior Rikanette Steenkamp and Janet Lawless (nee Wienand) renew their rivalry.  In 2010, Steenkamp was too strong for Lawless, while in Potchefstroom recently at the first Yellow Pages meeting, Lawless narrowly beat the youngster. 

Last year saw these two athletes met twice, with Steenkamp winning on both occasions, including the National Championships in Durban.

The men’s 400m promises to be a close affair with Ofentse Mogawane, the national champion and only athlete to break 46 seconds in 2010, making his return to the track after an injury.  Mogawane will be up against the fast improving Shane Victor of Durban and former national champion, Sibusiso Sishi.  Victor ran Jakob Ramakoka to the line in Pretoria, and only a photo finish could separate the two.

Luvo Manyonga is definitely in high spirits after defeating James Beckford, two-time World Championship silver medallist and former Olympic silver medallist, in the long jump and going over 8m (8.05m) in Pretoria. 

The Maties athlete will definitely be the “home-town” favourite but will have his work cut out for him when he takes on the current World and Olympic silver medallist, Khotso Mokoena.  Beckford will not take his defeat to the younger Manyonga lightly. 

Manyonga is half his age and was totally unaware of whom he was facing so there’s every indication that Beckford will be out for revenge.

The men’s mile will be a tough competition as ASA has put up R5 000 to the first athlete to break the four minute barrier.  Sampson Ngoepe, Flavio Seholo and Tlou Seloba will, weather permitting, give that barrier a serious go.
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