Firm favourite Caster Semenya cruised through her first-round 800m heat on Wednesday, booking her place in the semifinals of the two-lap contest at the Rio Olympics.
She won her race in 1:59.32, progressing safely to the penultimate round, to be held in the early hours of Friday morning (SA time).
“That was not easy. It was pretty hot out there,” Semenya said afterwards.
“I was just trying to hang on, feel my body first so I could feel comfortable.
“I was trying to get into the top two at 200m (to go), and tried to win so I’d be safe for the semifinals.”
Semenya, holding three of the four fastest times in the world this year, went into her specialist event as the outright favourite after clocking 1:55.33 in Monaco last month to break her own national record.
While she also qualified for the 400m and 800m events at the Games, she opted out of both in order to focus on the two-lap contest, in which she won the 2009 world title and bagged silver at the previous edition of the Games in London four years ago behind Russian doper Mariya Savinova.
While a media frenzy and public outcry had been expected by some due to a revived debate regarding her gender, Semenya walked through the mixed zone unscathed after her opening race, with SA team officials escorted her through the interview area without any issues.