Wrapping up another impressive campaign, middle-distance runner Caster Semenya was pleased to close it off with a bang after returning to the city where she first won the world title eight years ago.
The versatile 26-year-old South African athlete shattered the 600m world record at the Istaf meeting in Berlin, Germany at the weekend, which formed the penultimate leg of the annual World Challenge series.
Storming home in 1:21.77, Semenya took 0.86 off the previous global mark which had been held by Cuba’s Ana Fidelia Quirot for more than 20 years.
“I won my first world title here in Berlin so this city is special for me and I wanted to deliver to these amazing people,” Semenya told the IAAF website.
“The 600m is a bit easier compared to the 800m, and I love speed, so I liked it.”
During a remarkable season, Semenya set four of the top seven times in the world over the 800m distance, including the national record of 1:55.16 she clocked to win the world title in London, which was the quickest performance of 2017.
She stretched her unbeaten run over two laps to 20 races in two years, as she edged closer towards the long-standing world record of 1:53.28.
Semenya was also ranked 20th in the 1 500m event with a season’s best of 4:02.84, twice dipping under 4:03.00 in the metric mile and taking a surprise bronze medal at the World Championships, after deciding just a few weeks earlier to attempt the double.
Semenya, who also retained the Diamond League trophy in the 800m event, was expected to arrive back in the country this morning.
The international track and field season is set to come to an end this week, with the last World Challenge meeting of the year taking place in Zagreb this evening and the second leg of the Diamond League final scheduled for Brussels on Friday night.