Athletics

No pressure on Caster

Caster Semenya (AFP)
Caster Semenya (AFP)

Johannesburg - Olympic 800m silver medallist Caster Semenya will have another chance of qualifying for the 2015 IAAF World Championships when she lines up at the SA Open Championships in Potchefstroom this weekend.

The SA Open Championships on Friday and Saturday will be last track and field event on home soil for South African athletes to set qualifying standards for the global event in Beijing later this year.

Semenya was slowly regaining her form following a rather indifferent 2014 season on the track where she failed to qualify for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

She has since moved to Potchefstroom where she is mentored by Jean Verster at the North-West University after splitting from her former coach of three years Maria Mutola.

The 24-year-old Semenya won the two-lap title in a tactical race at the national championships in Stellenbosch where she posted a time of 2:05.05 to miss the qualifying mark by four seconds.

Verster said Semenya was in the kind of form that could see her drop below the mark but there was no pressure on her to dip below it.

Instead they would be looking for Semenya to shave more time off her season’s best she posted in Stellenbosch ahead of the international track and field season.

“She is ready and wants to go out hard, so we are hoping for a time between 2:02 and 2:03 or perhaps even faster over the weekend,” Verster said.

“That would put her in the right frame of mind for Europe later this month and in June.

“If everything goes well on Saturday she could meet the standard but there is no pressure. If she doesn’t run it now she will do it in Europe.

Verster said Semenya had completed a tough 10 days of racing where she had competed in 11 races at the SA Championships, the USSA Championships and the Varsity Athletics.

“She is going on well and her times are steadily dropping during training. We’ve only started doing a bit of speed now and it is looking good,” he said.

Meanwhile, women’s 400m hurdles ace Wenda Nel will also be in the blocks in Potchefstroom where she will be targeting a new personal best in her specialist event.

In 2014, Nel became the third South African woman to break 55 seconds when she posted a time of 54.82 seconds in Marrakech.

A field of 450 athletes will be participating over the two days of the SA Open Championships of which 100 are from outside South Africa including 14 countries from the African continent.

The field will include Olympic 800m men’s silver medallist Nijel Amos, South African middle-distance aces Elroy Galant and Jerry Motsau, all members of Verster’s training group.

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