Caster Semenya can’t wait to mark her first race on the domestic scene, almost a year since her last appearance at the final meet of the 2009 Yellow Pages Series.
The 800m world champion last participated locally when she ran in the country in Germiston last March, notching up her lifetime best with a winning time of 2:00.58.
“It has been a while since I last competed here. I am fit again and it is a good feeling that I will start the season with,” she declared this week. “I’m 100% focused after a difficult time off the track. Things could not have been better with the new sponsor on board.”
The 19-year-old has been entrusted with the role of brand ambassador for Great Wall Motors SA. She was this week presented with the company’s top-of-the-range car, a metallic black CB 150 ME hatchback emblazoned with a gigantic picture of her in action.
“The car will take me places, but it will most importantly come in handy if I want to travel around and conduct coaching clinics,” she beamed.
Semenya is undergoing rehabilitation for a back injury that sidelined her from the Commonwealth Games in India in October.
Her return to the local track will depend on her fitness level.
As a result, there are no guarantees that she will turn out in the new Yellow Pages Summer Series this month.
The opening series started in Stellenbosch, near Cape Town, on Friday.
“My coach will advise if I should take part in the event or start in the Yellow Pages Series in February. I personally am fully focused, as next year will be a big year for athletics with the World Championships on the calendar,” said Semenya.
Her mentor, Michael Seme, said his charge would be taken through her paces in their annual pre-season camp which runs throughout the festive season.
“We are already busy with the pre-season programme and we’ll set up another camp in July.”
Meanwhile, Oscar “Blade Runner” Pistorius is among the familiar faces that have confirmed their appearance in the Summer Series. Incentives will be in abundance, with R5?000 on offer for athletes who slip under the four-minute mark in the mile race during the meets.
The four-series event will continue in Oudtshoorn tomorrow, Port Elizabeth on Wednesday and Parow (Western Cape) on Saturday.
Semenya’s lifetime best record which she notched up in Germiston last March