Middle-distance runner Caster Semenya was already looking for areas of improvement on Friday night after making a silent statement with a sterling performance as one of two South African athletes to set national records at an explosive Diamond League meeting in Doha.
Semenya shook off some poor pace setting over the first two laps of the women’s 1 500m race, kicking after the bell and storming across the line in 3:59.92 to secure a comfortable victory.
She chopped 0.79 off her own national record set at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games last month, becoming the first SA woman to break the four-minute barrier over the distance.
“I think we definitely achieved what we came here for,” said Semenya, who was a central figure in an ongoing gender rule debate in global athletics.
“I want to maintain this momentum throughout the season, but will also make sure I continue to keep healthy.
“My immediate next step is to go back and watch the race, and see where we can improve.”
Sprinter Carina Horn was also in record-breaking form, delivering a historic performance of her own in the women’s 100m dash.
Horn took fifth place in 10.98 seconds, clipping 0.05 off the SA mark she set at the national championships in Pretoria last month and becoming the first South African woman to crack the 11-second barrier.
In other disciplines at the first of 14 legs in the Diamond League series, Cornel Fredericks finished fifth in the men’s 400m hurdles race in 50.03, Khotso Mokoena was sixth in the triple jump with a 16.92m leap, and Pieter Conradie trailed home in eighth spot in the 400m event.