Semenya sets sights on 200m ahead of Olympics

South Africa’s multiple Olympic champion, Caster Semenya has opted to focus on the 200m regardless of the result of her CAS appeal
South Africa’s Caster Semenya competes in the women’s 800m during the IAAF Diamond League competition on May 3, 2019 in Doha. (Photo by Karim JAAFAR / AFP)

South Africa’s multiple Olympic champion, Caster Semenya has opted to focus on the 200m race regardless of the result of her appeal to overturn the ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).

Semenya has been in court battling to get the CAS decision that allowed the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) to prescribe hormone-suppressants for any female athlete with Disorder of Sex Development (DSD) competing in the 400m to 1500m races.

Semenya has outrightly refused to take any form of suppressant and has opted to focus on the 200m sprint distance.

“That’s decided; we’ll stick to 200m no matter what,” Semenya told Athletics South Africa (ASA).

“We don’t care about any other decision-making. We will do what we can control now, which is the 200m. That’s the race we’re going to focus on the entire season and we do not care about any other stuff. Two hundred it is.”

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Semenya ran an impressive 200m time with 23.80 at the Gauteng North Championships in March, and recorded a personal best of 23.49.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist said she always loved the 200m race in her younger years before developing into one of the world’s greatest in the 800m runner.

“I’m that athlete who does not worry about times; I take it as it comes. We ran 23.80 and then 23.49 and, in the nationals, we were hoping to go a little bit down,” she said.

“I’ve always said that I’m a power athlete; I can do anything from 100m to a marathon. I have power and speed, which has helped me run a better 800m. From a young age I did the 200m and it has always been easy to do sprints – I was born with sprints.

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“In Limpopo I didn’t have a coach and I had to make a choice to move to middle distance but the 200m is really not a challenge. The challenge is in the how. You have to master a lot of things: you have to start quickly, you have to ‘slip’ on the bend and to keep your high knees.

“Now I’m learning how to drive and push through the bend, so that when I finish it off, I know I’m at top speed.

“It’s crazy but I’m enjoying it. I wish I ran 200m from age 12. I don’t know where I could have been now.”

Semenya still has some work to do as regards her new venture into the 200m races as she has to make the qualifying time of 22.80 to get to Tokyo 2020 Olympics next year.

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