Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
10 Nov 2014
12:32 pm

Semenya switches coaches

Wesley Botton

Former world 800m champion Caster Semenya has ended her three-year partnership with coach Maria Mutola and has joined Jean Verster's training group in Potchefstroom.

FILE PICTURE: Caster Semenya. Picture: Lee Warren / Gallo Images

Verster confirmed on Monday that Semenya had started training with his group of athletes at North-West University, including Olympic silver medallist Nijel Amos of Botswana, and fellow South Africans Andre Olivier, the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, and Gena Lofstrand, who won the national senior title last year at the age of 17.

“Everyone was a bit worried about the way Caster ran this year,” Verster said.

“Obviously something was wrong. She had problems with a knee injury, but apparently Maria had become tied up with business commitments in Mozambique, so she was training on her own a lot.”

Semenya had the worst season of her career in 2014, setting her best time of the year when she clocked 2:02.66 in Rome in June.

She failed to go under 1:59.00 for the first time since 2009, when she won the world title in a national record 1:55.45 at the age of 18.

Having secured silver medals at the 2011 global championships in Daegu and the 2012 London Olympics, she did not qualify for last year’s world championships in Moscow, after returning from a long-term knee injury, or this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

“She can run a lot better if she is consistent with her training and stays injury free,” Verster said.

Mutola, a former Olympic gold medallist and three-time world 800m champion, took over as Semenya’s coach in October 2011 after the athlete cut ties with former mentor Michael Seme.