Semenya targets gold
10 August 2012 | NICK GORDON
LONDON – Tonight, one of South Africa’s most vivid – and possibly last – chances of a medal will take to the track when Caster Semenya lines up in the final of the women’s 800m in what could be a defining moment of the 19-year-old’s career as she goes in search of Olympic gold.
Semenya has already tasted championship success – and the headlines it attracts – following her win in the event at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. While many applauded the feat, the doubters crept out of the woodwork and scrutiny followed. Following an investigation by the IAAF, Semenya was cleared to complete following the gender testing debacle and many wondered whether the Limpopo-born athlete would ever be the same. The next few months were trying times and naturally, Semenya’s dislike for the media and the questions that come with the territory, grew.
But the debacle looks set to be forgotten as Semenya goes in search of Olympic glory and all the signs are there that the wide smile witnessed in the mixed zone following the semifinal on Thursday night may well be witnessed again.
“I’m very happy to get through to the finals. It was very hard and I tried my best,” said Semenya of her dominant showing in the semifinal where she clocked a 1:57.67, a season best.
“The training has been done and it’s just a matter of having fun.
“You just put on your spikes and just run. It doesn’t matter about results as long as you make the final,” she added, before admitting that the atmosphere inside the Olympic stadium makes her feel good and kills off any nerves.
“I don’t feel nervous when they call my name in front of this crowd. It feels like home.
“It reminds me of good memories. I think it’s the right time.”
Semenya won’t have it all her own way tonight though as she lines up against a strong field that includes current world champion Mariya Savinova of Russia – who relegated Semenya to silver at last year’s World Championships in Daegu – and Kenya’s Pamela Jelimo, but the two-lap specialist admits that she doesn’t think about her foes.
“Sometimes it can disturb you then and there. But you just want to run a good race so you need to forget about everybody.
“You just need to think about your own race. It only matters after you cross the line ... that’s what matters,” said Semenya.
In other athletics action this weekend, Marc Mundell takes his place in the field for the men’s 50km race walk while the trio of Stephen Mokoka, Lusapho April and Coolboy Ngamole line-up in the men’s marathon on the final day of the Games tomorrow.
In other events today, the South African men’s hockey team will be fighting to avoid the wooden spoon when they take on India in the classification match for 11th and 12th place after finishing last in the pool stages.
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