Caster on course to retain 800m world title

Caster Semenya (AP)
Caster Semenya (AP)

Cape Town - South Africa's double Olympic champion Caster Semenya progressed without problem to the final of the women's 800m after coasting to victory in the semi-final at the IAAF World Championships on Friday.

Semenya, a bronze medallist in the 1500m in London as she attempted an audacious double, clocked an impressive 1min 58.90sec, looking incredibly comfortable as she broke with 20 metres to run.

"Yes, of course," said the two-time world gold medallist Semenya when asked whether she thought she could again medal in the two-lap race.

"The 1500m was more of me doing my training because otherwise I'd just be staying at home doing nothing.

"So I came here to entertain these people," said the South African, dogged by gender accusations since shooting to fame when she won her world gold over the 800m in Berlin in 2009.

Going through in second was Poland's Angelika Cichocka, who produced a stunning sprint to finish ahead of American Charlene Lipsey and Briton Lynsey Sharp.

Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi, world indoor champion and Olympic silver medallist, won the third and final semi ahead of Kenya's Margaret Wambui, bronze medallist at both the world indoors and Olympics last year.

American Ajee Wilson and Canada's Melissa Bishop qualified from the opening semi, with Lipsey and Benin's Noelie Yarigo going through as the two fastest losers.

Meanwhile, South Africa's other semi-finalist Gena Löfstrand did not qualify for the final after finishing last in a time of 2:03.67.

The final of the women's 800m gets underway on the final day of the athletic championship on Sunday (21:10 SA time).

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