Middle-distance star Caster Semenya made an explosive return to the track on Friday night, setting a new South African best at the University of Johannesburg.
Competing for the first time in seven months, Semenya won the elite women’s 300m race at the Classic Shoot-Out meeting, clocking 36.78 seconds and holding off a challenge from hurdles specialist Taylon Bieldt, who finished second in 37.22.
Though the 300m distance was not considered for record purposes, it was the fastest time ever run by a South African woman, clipping 0.24 off the SA best (37.02) which had been held by Heide Quinn for nearly 20 years.
Semenya also took 0.44 off her three-year-old personal best.
Following her latest performance, Semenya now owned the national bests and records over every distance ranging from 300m to 1 500m.
While she was indefinitely suspended by a Swiss court from competing internationally over distances ranging from 400m to the mile (1.609km), Semenya was cleared to compete at domestic level, as well as sprint and long distances at international level, until the Swiss Supreme Court made its decision on controversial gender rules which could permanently sideline the Olympic 800m champion from the sport.
Semenya, who also recently signed with top-flight local football club JVW for the domestic season, was expected to remain competitive on the track in the build-up to the national championships to be held in Pretoria in April.